This Memorial Day, we took a moment to remember all of the brave people who served our country and then never returned home. Their sacrifice is immeasurable.
While we remember those who have lost everything as part of the military, I would like to take a moment to remember those who returned home but were forgotten on the streets of our own country.
Veteran homelessness is a huge problem.
While the Annual Homeless Assessment Report estimated that veteran homelessness has dropped in the past year, There were still 37,878 homeless service men and women on a single night in January 2019. That accounts for about nine percent of the total count of homeless adults nationwide. 1,636 of those homeless veterans on that single, cold night in January were in the state of Washington.
Why are they homeless, you might ask? For the same reasons most people are homeless, lack of healthcare, inability to keep a job due to PTSD and mental illness, inability to access affordable housing and lack of income. This is compounded with PTSD which may have lead to substance abuse When the veteran self medicates for PTSD symptoms it may lead to addiction and eventually homelessness. They are more likely to withdraw or push away their family and friends, leaving them more vulnerable to homelessness.
Homelessness is a pervasive issue in our country and it is astounding that we could let anyone go homeless, but especially those who sacrificed everything for the well being of the country and the civilians in it. The U.S Department of Veteran's Affairs allocates money to taking care of service men and women after they return home, but clearly, not enough has been spent on this when so many are still homeless.
It is also important to remember that it is possible that those who administered surveys were not able to find certain homeless vets, or receive accurate answers from them, potentially skewing the actual numbers of homeless vets. And just like any other governmental department, the VA only has so much money at any given time.
Take a look at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans website for information if you need help, or if you would like to help. When elections are upcoming, remember to look for this issue in your ballot, both state and federal.
While we are remembering those who died in service this week, it seems disrespectful to forget those who lived and came home but were not able to properly function for whatever reason, and therefore, were outcast. I am thankful for their service and pledge to make sure my vote goes to protecting them.