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Homeless Veterans

Homeless Veterans

Homeless veterans are a problem in America today and sociological research on them reveals many complicated aspects of their existence. Have Paper Masters custom write you a research paper on homeless veterans or any aspect of the plight of veterans today.

Since 2001, America's military has been called upon to fight for their country, but many have returned suffering from the following:

The plight of homeless veterans is both tragic and real across America. In 2010, approximately 12,700 of America's veterans were homeless.

The vast majority of homeless veterans are male, single, and living in an urban area. It has been estimated that about 12% of America's homeless population are veterans. Some 40% of homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite the fact that African Americans comprise 10.4% of U.S. veterans, and Hispanics only 3.4%. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) believes that on any given night, there are about 50,000 homeless veterans.

There are numerous reasons for this problem. There is a shortage of affordable housing in the United States, as well as an inability for many veterans to secure employment with a living wage. Further, because many vets suffer from PTSD and/or substance abuse as the result of their combat experience, they are often unable to reintegrate into society, and secure stable employment. Homeless veterans need programs that combine transitional housing, structured programs to treat both PTSD and substance abuse, as well as job training and employment assistance.

Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Director, comments that homelessness "cannot be solved by a hot shower, a warm meal and a bed... Homelessness is not a condition; it is an outcome of mental illness, drug abuse, alcoholism, disability, chronic illness, and just plain hard times". Thus the solution for homelessness does not lie in a pill, or a therapy, or in providing simple shelter. The solution lies in humans working together to understand the plight of each individual homeless man or woman. Solving homelessness must come from the active participation of religious groups and government to care for those less fortunate.

Mental Illness and the Homeless Veteran

Today, nearly a million veterans are still tormented from hallucinations, night terrors, alcohol and drug abuse, bursts of uncontrollable rage and violence, as well as feelings of alienation. It seems that the passage of time has not helped to curb the suffering of many Vietnam veterans. In fact, statistics show that 60,000 veterans have killed themselves. Also, in a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2004), combat veterans "continued to die at greater rates and remained especially vulnerable to drug overdose and accidental poisoning". This is due, in part, to the way in which the Vietnam War was fought and how veterans were dismissed, even scorned, by American society when they returned home. Unlike previous wars, the Vietnam War was a battle "that could not be won" and "whose warriors came home, not to honor and glory, but to taunts and demonstrations," only to later be "spurned and neglected by a welfare program geared to returning heroes". These soldiers had seen and experienced things so horrible, like gunshot wounds, torture, captivity, loneliness, and depression, they could never be fully articulated. Their arrival home was often bittersweet because although they were grateful to leave the jungles of Vietnam, they had to quickly assimilate themselves back into a society that did not want them. Most importantly, they had to get to know their families again, which was a difficult challenge for many: War had changed all of them. Their wives had become more independent, the head of the household, while their children had grown up without a father.

Even though more than three decades have passed since the War ended, many families continue to suffer from the mental and psychological battles the Vietnam veterans still face-most of which directly relate to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is characterized by the following: "the occurrence of an event outside the range of usual human experiences that would be markedly distressing to almost anybody," a "persistent intrusive and distressing re-experiencing of that event," a "persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the event," as well as "persistent increased arousal". The disorder can manifest itself in recurrent distressing dreams of the event, hallucinations, deep psychological distress at events that trigger the memory, avoidance of thoughts/feelings associated with the trauma, psychogenic amnesia, as well as difficulty sleeping. According to a recent article in Newsweek, in many cases, these "symptoms worsen with time" and leave "the victims at a higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, homelessness, and suicide".One Vietnam veteran, Greg Helle, who suffered from severe PTSD for years, summarized why many men did not complain or ask for help: "We had the John Wayne syndrome. We were men, we'd been to war. We thought we could tough it out,".But, as the following decades would reveal, these veterans could not get passed it; they could not heal. They believed that seeking help was a sign they were weak. Also, during the first decade after the war, PTSD identification and treatment was in its infancy stages, causing many veterans to experience tremendous pain for years. The depth at which veterans can suffer from PTSD as well as their strong resistance to seek help or therapy makes it especially difficult for families to cope with having a disturbed or emotionally-afflicted (even absent) husband or father.

One of the serious implications of PTSD is that families can often lose the spouse or father to the streets. In addition to PTSD, veterans can suffer from other disorders, such as affective (mood) disorders, anxiety disorders (obsessive compulsive disorder), substance addiction, as well as personality disorders. Some may struggle with mental illnesses including schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depression, often forcing a veteran to leave his family and friends for a lonely life under a storefront. Homelessness continues to plague most cities in the United States. In 2001, the American Psychiatric Association found that an estimated 250,000 veterans, or about one-third of homeless adults, are veterans, many of which are those who served in Vietnam. This number is "greater than the number of service persons who died during the Vietnam War." Almost 45% of these homeless veterans are mentally ill while more than 70% are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Whether direct or indirect, the negative impact of homelessness, mental illness, and/or drug and alcohol abuse can severely harm families. Spouses experience feelings of helplessness while children feel they were abandoned by their fathers.

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