Do we take care of our own?

One of the Vietnam War’s legacies was a generation of homeless veterans – traumatized by war and uncared for by the system that happily used them for its own ends before leaving them to the streets. Now, despite constant crowing about reforms at the Veterans Administration and treatment for mental illness in the military, it seems America will have another generation of homeless veterans thanks to our adventures and misadventures overseas:

The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are homeless or at risk of losing a roof over their heads has more than doubled in the past two years, according to government data.

Through the end of September, 26,531 of them were living on the streets, at risk of losing their homes, staying in temporary housing or receiving federal vouchers to pay rent, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports.

That’s up from 10,500 in 2010. The VA says the numbers could be higher because they include only the homeless the department is aware of.

A problem that could only get worse when/if the forces leave Afghanistan and service members are finally allowed to leave.

The department says effects of the two wars on them, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and a slow economic recovery have contributed to their homelessness.

The issue is particularly acute as the military continues to draw down its ranks. About 307,000 are likely to leave the military each of the next four years.

Do we take care of our own?

Photo by Alaina Abplanalp Photography under Creative Commons license