Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is one of a group of more than 75 Mayors and county officials who’ve signed on to a nation-wide plan to end homelessness among those who’ve served in the military. First Lady Michelle Obama this week kicked off the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
“It really is a call to mayors and other elected officials to focus their attention on veterans who are homeless in our communities,” said Jane Vincent, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Philadelphia.
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.
Veterans and veterans’ advocates gathered Wednesday night to hash out some of the issues facing GI’s as they return from combat zones and try to assimilate back into stateside life. The discussion repeatedly returned to finding and keeping a job.
The jobs just haven’t been there for the last few years, said Pennsylvania Careerlink Mon Valley office Veterans’ Representative John Bittner. But it’s getting better.
When many U.S. military personnel leave the service to return home, they might not have a home to return to or they wind up in the streets eventually.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says there are more than 10,000 homeless veterans nationwide, including those in southwestern Pennsylvania, which has one of the highest veterans per capita rates in the country.
As men and women return from military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they go through a significant adjustment as they rejoin civilian life. Part of that adjustment is figuring how to communicate their experience at war. This can be especially challenging for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who are trying to build new, romantic relationships.
The Sierra Club’s mission for its Military Families and Veterans Initiative is, “to ensure those who defended our country and their families get to enjoy the land they served.” Heading up that mission is Stacy Bare, an Iraq war veteran, based in Washington D.C.
Bare said being outdoors helped him deal with the stresses of being a veteran and move forward with his own life after returning home.