Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Homeless OIF & OEF Veterans

Throughout history, every war has produced homeless veterans in its aftermath. Right now the Department of Veterans Affairs says there are about 1,500 from OIF & OEF that are currently homeless.

"...People who have studied postwar trauma say there is always a lengthy gap between coming home - the time of parades and backslaps and "The Boys Are Back in Town" on the local FM station - and the moments of utter darkness that leave some of them homeless.

In that time, usually a period of years, some veterans focus on the horrors they saw on the battlefield, or the friends they lost, or why on earth they themselves deserved to come home at all. They self-medicate, develop addictions, spiral down.

Mental illness, financial troubles and difficulty in finding affordable housing are generally accepted as the three primary causes of homelessness among veterans, and in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, the first has raised particular concern.

Iraq veterans are less likely to have substance abuse problems but more likely to suffer mental illness, particularly post-traumatic stress, according to the Veterans Administration. And that stress by itself can trigger substance abuse.

Some advocates say there are also some factors particular to the Iraq war, like multiple deployments and the proliferation of improvised explosive devices, that could be pulling an early trigger on stress disorders that can lead to homelessness.

While many Vietnam veterans began showing manifestations of stress disorders roughly 10 years after returning from the front, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have shown the signs much earlier..." (Read the entire article)

I wouldn't presume to offer any insights into this terrible reality. I have not served and have never dealt with the horrific realities of war.
Over the weekend, The Man and I watched a movie that dealt with the redeployment of troops from Iraq: Home of the Brave (Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba & Fiddy Cent). Granted, this was one of the worst movies I've seen in a while, but the point was well taken. Watching the troops attempting to meld back into their pre-combat lives was painful.

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