Bringing the plight of many of our Veterans to the attention of the public is of utmost importance. Housing our Heroes must be high on the agenda of everyone in our Nation and needs to be addressed immediately.

There is a growing number of Veterans, both combat and non-combat, who have fallen into catastrophic conditions forcing them to either live in shelters, if they are lucky, on the streets or in vehicles. The lack of support for those who served our country to ensure our freedom is a disgrace and a sad commentary of what we hold sacred.

The economic status of our veterans generally falls below the federal poverty level. Combat Veterans are at greater risk for homelessness due to several factors that the general population does not share. Combat Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CRPTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) are the two most notable, with substance abuse and sexual assault being included among some of the reasons for this risk. Those who are experiencing homelessness live more on the streets than in homeless shelters, and they most often continue on the streets for lengthier periods of time.

The most recent statistics as of November 2011 is that over 29,669 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are living in the nine counties of the Bay Area. This number does not include the number of Vietnam War Veterans in the same region, many of whom have fallen through the cracks. Given that there is only one other NPO in our region who serves combat veterans specifically and their client base is annually around 2000, there is a large number of veterans who are underserved in our communities and they need our help.

There are currently 1.3 million actively serving military members who are due to be released from duty, many well before their contract expires. We will see an upsurge in that population in the Bay Area very soon. Their needs will have to be addressed, and we have to be ready to provide them with the services they need to reintegrate into society in a positive way.

Nationally there were approximately 62,619 homeless veterans as of 2012, which constitutes 13% of all homeless adults in the United States. Locally there were, as of 2012, approximately 718 veterans. This number does not include statistics for the number of family members of the veteran who are also experiencing homelessness.

During a recent survey which is included in a report prepared and published by Santa Clara County, local veterans reported the reasons for homelessness as follows:

38% reported the loss of employment

19% reported alcohol or drug dependency

As far as government assistance they reported the following:

36% reported that they received no assistance

24% reported that they received food stamp assistance

19% reported that they received General Assistance

13% reported that they received VA Disability Compensation

In the same survey, veterans reported the following as preventions for homelessness:

39% reported employment assistance

28% reported rent or mortgage assistance

24% reported mental and physical health assistance

Homeless veterans tend to be older, are more likely to have children, are more likely to be male, experience longer periods of homelessness, have less accessibility to mental and physical health care, and have much higher reported rates of depression, CRPTSD, TBI, along with mental and physical disabilities.

It is our duty, and our privilege, to ensure that our veterans receive, at the very least, education, employment, housing, healthcare and food to eat. It is our duty to make certain that they are safe. It is our duty!

Susan Isabella Sheehan


A Circle Of Warriors

“No one of us can be abandoned, wounded on the battlefields of life!”