Soc 310 – Social Work Research
June 21, 2014
Homelessness has always existed in the United States, but only in recent years has the issue become a more prevalent and noticeable phenomenon. Homeless veterans began to come to the attention of the public at the same time. News accounts chronicled the plight of veterans who had served their country but were living (and dying) on the streets. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates about 250,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. (2012, pg. 4) My research will examine how homelessness is impacting our veterans and what interventions are available to homeless veterans. Introduction
Whether it is wartime or peacetime, the men and women who serve our country live an unusual life style. Whether it is in the barracks or in the fields, military personnel form close alliances and bonds, which are necessary because they must depend on one another for survival. Once these veterans return home from the Gulf, Iraq or Afghanistan war or even if they just decide to discharge honorably, they face a whole new set of problems. These problems can be as small as reintegrating with their family, finding a job or finding a place to live. An ongoing problem that our veterans learn to cope with is how to deal with combat issues such as physical and mental disabilities. Today’s veterans find that he/she has more difficulty because they are not looked at in the way veterans were looked upon in the past. America’s patriotism has changed. Men were drafted into the military with the promises for a better future because they served their country. The country got behind them because they were fighting a World War. But Vietnam was the turning point for our veterans and upon their return home, they became society’s problem. Many young veterans who returned home were between 18 – 31 years old. Some were physically wounded and some were physically disabled. These veterans were sent home to our veterans hospitals for treatment. There were also those who had mental health issues and some help was given to them but not enough. Veterans were discharged much too quickly. Where were these veterans to go? Many tried to reintegrate into society by securing housing (apartment or room) and others tried to move back home with their families. However, many veterans faced considerable challenges as a result of their physical disabilities and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This caused many veterans to become homeless. First, society could not deal with veterans up close and personal and second, another reason was because the war haunted many veterans every day (PTSD). Therefore, for some veterans, they would rather live on the streets because they actually felt safer. According to data from Department of Veterans Affairs office of Inspector General, “ veterans who became homeless after military separation were younger, enlisted with lower pay grades and were more likely to be diagnosed with mental disorders at the time of separation from active duty.” (2012, pg. 4) Our veterans are our most important resource. We (Americans) do not live in a closed world anymore and when trouble comes to our shores, it is our veterans we depend upon to defend us. Our military is voluntary at this time and society and our government should protect and preserve their lives because without the veterans who would we count on? The military that protects us are strong, well trained, intelligent men and women who are willing to lay their lives on the line for their country. And for that reason, they deserve our respect, our support and our care. The social worker plays a major role in helping the veterans to stay connected to family and their community. The social worker’s role is to help the veteran and his family to access all resources that can be beneficial to the veteran’s recovery and a smoother re-entry back into his/her life. My research will attempt to answer the following...
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