Monday, June 25, 2012
An estimated 150,000 American veterans are homeless or become homeless upon returning from overseas, and an advocacy group said the government is not doing enough to alleviate the issue. The Circle of Friends for American Veterans (COFAV) reported 150,000 are without shelter with only 1/10 of 1% of the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) $130 billion budget supporting homeless veterans.
Major Brian Hampton, President of the COFAV, said the current situation could worsen. “Young men and women who serve in warzones now have no safe haven anytime, anyplace, anywhere, and it’s just a nerve-wracking experience, and we’re going to have more veterans back,” Hampton said.
He claims the VA is “squandering tens of billions of dollars,” and Congress is not adequately overseeing the agency.
The effects of war, which many face when coming home, include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and brain injuries. Approximately 700,000 veterans suffer from PTSD and 800,000 are forced to deal with brain trauma. An average of 18 war veterans commits suicide every day.
Hampton said returning home from war is a major adjustment. “They come back, try to get into society and they experience a lot of psychological challenges, financial challenges, physical challenges, and as a result we have about 150,000 who have served in American uniform and are on our streets tonight,” Hampton said.
His group will continue to encourage the VA to help in making the situation better. Hampton said their help can’t come soon enough. “Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, the month after, this year, next year — as soon as possible,” Hampton said.
In April 2012, 90.5 WESA worked with media partners to bring you an ongoing series of stories about veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan coming back to their families, friends and jobs in Pennsylvania.