Honoring The Dead, Remembering The Living

Posted on June 1, 2010

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about one out of every five individuals experiencing homelessness – or approximately 107,000 individuals – is a veteran.

Why do soldiers who have served our country wind up on the streets, and what can be done to prevent this from happening?

Reintegration into civilian life after military service is difficult under the best of circumstances. The shortage of affordable housing and jobs only makes things worse. Without sufficient family and social support networks, this transition can be overwhelming. And when other co-occurring factors such as disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or incarceration are present, the result for many veterans is homelessness.

VSH client Sam Phillips* is one such veteran. Despite being a highly decorated paratrooper in Vietnam, Sam returned to the U.S. suffering from a variety of medical complications that led to drug abuse, lost jobs, and ultimately a three-month episode of homelessness.

According to NCHV, veterans who are struggling with multiple reintegration issues require a response that meets their needs for secure affordable housing, access to health care, mental health & substance abuse counseling, job training, and other services. In other words, they need the type of permanent supportive housing that Virginia Supportive Housing provides.

The VSH solution got Sam off the streets, and it can help other veterans as well. But we can’t do it without you.

This past weekend was about remembering those American men and women who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in defense of our country. Honoring them is the right thing to do.  But while Memorial Day only happens once a year, our nation’s returning veterans need support year-round. Remembering them – and responding to their needs – is also the right thing to do. To learn more about the VSH solution, click here.

*not his real name

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