Monday, April 23, 2007

Perspective: Many returning from wars face homelessness

Left: A homeless Iraq veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder who waited six months for his first VA check.

WASHINGTON - Increasingly, veterans who served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are showing up homeless at shelters and agencies in across the nation, agencies and advocates for the homeless say.

And mental illness and addiction are major reasons they have no jobs and no place to live.

Although the Department of Veterans Affairs counts a relatively small number of homeless veterans from the two current wars over the past two years - 300 cases - other groups and even the government say the number is way short of reality.

"We know that number has got to be a lot smaller than the number that is out there based on a number of factors," said Amy Fairweather, director of the Iraq Veterans Project in San Francisco, which recently completed a study of homeless veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Many homeless veterans aren't counted because they aren't taken in by affiliates of the Veterans Affairs Homeless Services Division, she and others noted.

Read the rest at the St. Louis Dispatch