ALARMING VETERAN STATISTICS

One Woman’s Opinion/Veterans
by – Sheri de Grom

The American soldier offers his/her life that we may continue to live in freedom. I find the following numbers not only shocking but appalling. It’s no wonder that less than 1% of the United States eligible population is willing to serve in our armed services.

  • Between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year.
  • Approximately 33% of all homeless men in the U.S. are veterans.

    HOMELESS VETERANS GETTY IMAGE

    HOMELESS VETERANS
    GETTY IMAGE

  • Veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless.
  • Veterans represent 11% of the adult civilian population, but 26% of the homeless population.
  • Veterans are more at risk of becoming homeless than non-veterans.
  • One in ten veterans is disabled.
  • 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • 37% of all veterans returned from deployment to Iraq with mental health disorders.
  • The incidence of PTSD and suicide rates among veterans is increasing at an alarming rate.
  • One veteran takes his/her life every sixty-five minutes of every day.
  • The risks of women veterans becoming homeless are four times greater than male veterans.
  • 7% of the nation’s homeless veteran population is comprised of women.
  • 23-29% of female veterans seeking VA medical care reported experiences of sexual assault within their own chain of command.

All statistics were verified with the latest available data from: The Department of Veteran Affairs, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Alliance to End Homelessness and The National Center on Family Homelessness.

This woman’s opinion: all children of the President and his appointees, all children of members of Congress and lobbyist’ should be required to enlist in the military and serve a minimum of four years active duty. And, we should not forget, currently, eighty-percent of our congressional members have never served their country in any military capacity. Individuals we’ve elected to lead us have no idea what’s required to serve in the United States Military and to sacrifice so much for so little in return.

Would our government be so eager to enter into every conflict in the world if the lives of ‘their children and loved ones’ faced the possibility of coming home in a flagged draped coffin, confined to a wheel chair, withdrawn completely into him/herself so thoroughly that no amount of mental health services can seem to reach them and their lives end in suicide. And what about the service member who leaves for war enthusiastic to defend his/her country, and before graduating from boot camp, their spirit has been crushed and the only way out is to commit suicide?

Thank you for reading with me. I appreciate the viewpoint of each of you. The builders of bigger and better war machinery are in operation and one crisis after another is exploding around the world.

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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98 Responses to ALARMING VETERAN STATISTICS

  1. Tanveer Rauf says:

    i do agree with each and every word. the leaders of all countries who are in war anywhere wherever must send their children too in the battle field to experience the agony

  2. 50djohnson says:

    Your post was very alarming. I have a son(a vascular surgeon), a nephew(an Apache pilot), and a grandson,who just got married and joined the navy. I have another friend, Russ Murphy, who works closely with Wounded Warriors. What I’d like to know is, in your opinion, what can we do to help, on the local level?

    • My #1 response is to listen. Many veterans want to talk and they tell me no one wants to really know what they’ve been through. We each have a certain amount we’re able to give and a place to find our own comfort level. You might have clothing in the back of your closet that would help a female veteran returning to the work force. You may have extra books you could leave at shelters or how about board games [if all the pieces are with the game]. If you are having a meal or just dessert and coffee out and are in a position to pay it forward, by all means do so for an active duty military family or veteran. A hot cup of coffee goes a long way for a veteran standing on the street corner. The years I lived and worked in DC, each morning when I changed the metro station to catch a bus, a veteran was camped with his dog 1/2 across a parade field. Each morning for 5 years I took him 2 egg and bacon sandwiches plus hot coffee and food for his dog. He would accept an occasional blanket. I was worried when my job transferred me to another state but found a co-worker who promised to look out for my veteran.
      The VA has formal programs you may participate in. It all depends on how involved you wish to become. Thank you for asking.

  3. fariv66 says:

    Thanks for posting that was very interesting.
    http://wp.me/p4oo6V-Ws

  4. I am so glad to see this post. I served five years in the Army and I believe these statistics are all too true. The saddest one for me is about the women who were, and still are being sexually assaulted and abused. There were four women including me that shared a room together while I was in the military. Everyone of us faced repeated sexual harassment and three out of four of us were sexually assaulted. As far as I know, only one woman came forward to report her assault. So I really do believe that the statistics in regard to this are actually much higher. I also wholeheartedly agree, that government leaders should be required to serve in the military. How can you really lead a group of people if you have not walked in their shoes?

    • Michelle – Welcome and thank you for stopping in to read with me and taking the time to comment. I understand the sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military and advocated hard for all legal action, regardless of rank, to occur outside of the military system. I’m a firm believer a victim will never receive justice within the military when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.
      I worked within the active duty environment for 19 of my 20 years government service and the other year was within the VA and I saw more than I ever wished to see and hear.
      I have blogs relating to this subject coming up in the next 6 months if everything stays on schedule. I’ve been researching what’s actually been happening within the last 10 years. Sheri

  5. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    SOME EYE-OPENING STATS FOR THOSE WILLING TO LISTEN.

  6. "A Curious Mind" says:

    This is an excellent article on all points,
    I especially agree: all our political leaders & lobbyist should be required to serve in the armed forces and their children & loved ones, and without special privilege while serving. They should all be treated as everyone else. It would definitely give them a different perspective. Sad to know that only 80% have never served, in my opinion they have no right to be in office let alone war mongering. I feel they have no business leading or representing our country one bit unless they’ve served.

  7. The statistics ARE shocking! The administration and Congress need to address some/all of these issues!

  8. mihrank says:

    Under fire for its growing backlog of disability benefits claims, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs last July set itself a goal: By year’s end, 40 percent of veterans would wait no more than four months for an answer on compensation claims for conditions as serious as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

    Instead, things got worse. A Center for Investigative Reporting analysis shows the ranks of veterans facing long waits increased by 18,000 since July 11, when the agency’s undersecretary for benefits, Allison Hickey, told reporters that the delays were unacceptable and pledged that the backlog would begin to shrink “right now.”

    By early January, the total number of veterans waiting for all claims had dipped slightly but remained above 900,000, with 630,000 – 70 percent – waiting longer than four months.

    • Mihran – Thank you for stopping by and adding valuable content to my blog. Our veterans are having a dismal time of getting anything from The Department of Veterans Affairs. I would say I’m all for vouchers allowing veterans to receive medical care in the civilian arena but unfortunately, medical care isn’t all that spectacular in the private world either.
      I wish I knew the solution but unfortunately I don’t.

      • mihrank says:

        wow Sheri – I feel sad – I am confused – this should be a top priority to provide the best care and attention. That’s why, our health attention for veterans in Israel much better and there is compare!

  9. Sheri, I am constantly shocked when I read these kinds of statistics. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, I find the entire issue so hard to accept or understand.Sadly I see no end in sight. A very, very sad reality for so many who put their life on the line for their country.

  10. No immediate plan to provide basic needs, no heightened sense of urgency to get them the care they need. It’s horrifying that there are miles of red tape and thin excuses and no accountability from anyone to follow through and fight for the same men and women that fought for us. It’s dusgusting.

  11. The veteran’s situation is dire and you have written another fine article. The VA can not get a decent director. The present one made up a tale to “connect” with a veteran. How stupid was that? He just proved that all the folks that work in the “ivory towers” have no common sense or decency about them. Such a shame that Obama can not even pick one dedicated individual for the job. The VA’s problems keep multiplying

    • Yvonne – Secretary McDonald may have had success with using the communication skill of finding a common denominator with Proctor & Gamble but they deal in suds and toilet paper. My immediate thought when I heard what he admitted to was that if he equates our veterans to a bit of soap and toilet paper, does he really have their best interests at heart? I’ve always believed an individual cannot be the head of a massive program, such as the VA, unless they have been one of the people they are now serving. Our Veterans may be homeless, ill and without funds but they are not stupid and they do not forgive easily — nor do I.

  12. Hello precious friend I wanted to come to your place and say hi and I hope you are doing well! Spring is almost here! Much love to you! I love this post….you are a beautiful writer! 😀 ❤
    I had my latte' and thought of you today! 😀

  13. How easily we forget about these people.

    • Bruce – Yes, unfortunately you are so right. I don’t think we’d forget about them if we’d been beside them as they crawled on their bellies through the jungles of Vietnam, were blasted with poisons in Desert Storm or suffered blast after blast from IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course that’s a mere sampling of the sacrifices our men and women of the military have made on our behalf.
      Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. I’ve enjoyed roaming around on your blog and exploring your wide variety of interests. Sheri

  14. Wow. Shocking and eye-opening. To what can we attribute this breakdown between what they need to reconnect with general society, and what little they are receiving?

    • Hello Renee, Thank you for dropping by. I believe the breakdown started with Vietnam, a war no one wanted except the politicians. Our military came home broken and wounded to a country that shunned them and left them literally on the streets to die. The men distrusted the VA. They had already been lied to time after time by the military and had no reason to trust anything having to do with the government. Since that time, each and every conflict our country has entered into [and God help us, our politicians haven’t a clue of how to keep us out of the affairs of others] the VA and all supporting services for the military and veterans have been dysfunctional. They are filled with corruption on the highest levels and on the lower levels with people who simply want to draw a check and then retire.
      The average veteran reconnecting with general society has so many counts already against them, it’s nearly impossible to receive benefits of any kind.

  15. Lignum Draco says:

    Appalling statistics and very confronting too. People are just fodder to governments.

  16. Not taking care of our vets is horrible. Leaves me at a loss for what to say. Thank you Sheri.

  17. Those are alarming statistics. Seeing what military folk go through–not just battle, but training–I don’t get how they aren’t the first to be hired when they’re out.

    • Jacqui – I fully understand your bewilderment. The civilian sector has the mentality that if you’ve been in the military then you couldn’t possibly be an independent thinker or think outside the box. There’s a number of other factors but I’ve seen it time and time again. I also saw it within government civil service positions on a military base. Retired military were not hired for positions they were more than qualified for when they became civilians. It never ceased to amaze me.
      Whenever I had military working for/with me, I encouraged them to write out how what they were doing would read on a civilian resume. When someone has been ‘inside’ military it’s easy to continue writing military after leaving. It’s often difficult for an active duty soldier [enlisted or officer] to see their specific specialty translate to civilian life. This needs to happen from day one.

  18. I have had more than one veteran tell me the same thing about our president(s) and congress, lobbyists and leaders….if it was their children they were sending off to war. If it was they who had the experience of being on the front line. There was a time when our leaders came from the service. It’s no longer like that. And the sad thing? Most of our veterans who have served their duty and are now getting royally shafted, would again serve, and even knowing now what the outcome would be for what they would get in return….continue to serve and serve again. Because of their patriotic duty and loyalty. Those are the men and women who should be leading our country.

  19. These numbers are appalling and disturbing. Soldiers are not throw-aways. It pains me the people who sign UP are glorified before they leave and cast aside when they return. Doesn’t such treatment leave a bad taste in your mouth? Wrong. All wrong. Low pay, non of it disaster pay (not sure what you call it) and then NO pay. Seems to me that must feel like a slap in the face.

  20. Angie Mc says:

    Sheri, you are right about the disconnect. My sons and I were just discussing how more than 500 Major League Baseball players served in WWII, to include some of the biggest names, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/sports/baseball/remembering-the-major-leaguers-who-died-in-world-war-ii.html?_r=0 . “We” served…”all” served…not just “those people” over there, removed from “us.” The disconnect and divisiveness is appalling.

  21. ksbeth says:

    this goes from bad to worse. so sad and frustrating, to say the least.

  22. The scenario you describe is totally outrageous.

  23. kanzensakura says:

    We can’t take care of everyone, but to not take care of our veterans is a national disgrace. The addiction, suicide, homelessness, physical and mental illnesses….many of them did not choose to go into the military but did so and served with honor because it was the right thing to do. Others chose to protect us and our rights. We should do the right thing now and protect them. You are an excellent advocate for these veterans.

  24. You are a great advocate for our veterans. Wish there were more like you.

  25. Sheri, shocking stats that we all need to know. What struck me was: The risks of women veterans becoming homeless are four times greater than male veterans.

    This should be sobering because the general public never considers any woman at risk for homelessness. We have a mental picture of the homeless as a shabby man, a hopeless drunk or drug addict … so we block out the face of the women.

    Since the BIG WWII … our last and most “popular” war … men in government office and 80% of able-bodied men not only do not serve voluntarily … while we still have a draft … all of them avoided the draft and made Vietnam the first combat war where minorities were the bulk of service men. It also took years to add the women from Vietnam next to the wall … the nurses and Red Cross … those non-combat women who risked their lives every day to save lives.

    Oh, if only the members of Congress had to send their kids to war … it would not be so easy for them to send us off thousands of miles from our shore to police the world 🙂

    • Hello my friend. Do you remember the Poor People’s March on Washington? I think that’s the last time I felt we the people of the United States had the power to cause change to come about. I was told I shouldn’t go and when I asked why, I was told I didn’t look poor enough! I’d never thought about having to look the part to participate in something I believed needed changing.
      I was young then and probably foolish and here we are, fighting for many of the same issues. Much of it has to do with respect for mankind. There’s something about a politician; once elected they forget humanity.
      All women are at great risk of becoming homeless. Elderly women are at a greater risk than any other socioeconomic group. I started the research and then went into another direction. The numbers are dreadful. Elderly women don’t last long on the street and they blend into the scenery of the homeless as they are preyed upon. They do their best to blend in. It’s the only way they can stay safe.

  26. gpcox says:

    Excellent research and statistics for the troops as usual. Many of these very veterans owe you a lot for the benefits and programs around.
    [wouldn’t you know it – I know sooner email you and the mail arrived 5 hours late and with the book. So I am already into Section 60].
    All my best to Tom.

  27. inesephoto says:

    Sheri – it is so true! The older men send the younger men to die… And if they return, they are ignored, as if they were expected to never return but somehow broke the rules…

  28. hurthealer says:

    Some truly shocking statistics Sheri, and this really highlights the plight of those who should be honored not ignored.

  29. There are probably no statistics for such things from WW I and WW II, but I’d bet the problems were not so rampant back then if for no reason other than the fact the American people supported them, welcomed them home, and thanked them for their service. Starting with Korea and accelerating since then, the American public in general has not supported our troops and, in many cases, actively derided them for serving. It’s a shameful situation. As I’ve seen in an email that has gone around several times, there are only two people willing to give their lives for us: Jesus Christ and the American serviceman.

    • David – Thank you for taking the time to read with me and commenting. I searched for statistics for WWII and details are sketchy at best for counting a homeless population. One did exist at that time but they were normally listed as a wandering hobo on census records.
      I think you are right about military members coming home and feeling like no one has an idea of where they’ve been, what they’ve seen or what they’ve had to do because someone else either told them to do it or it was a matter of saving their own life.
      I’ve read and interviewed a number of Vietnam, Gulf War and other conflicts pre Iraq and Afghanistan and veterans have told me they feel no connection with anyone. They see the VA as their enemy more than anything.
      I am familiar with the e-mail that’s made it’s way around about Jesus Christ and the American Serviceman being the only two people willing to give their lives for us. I often see a poster that states, “If you can read, don’t thank a teacher, thank a soldier.” For whatever reason, that one has always stayed with me.
      I hope you and your wife are doing well and the ice storm has stayed away from your neck of the woods. Sheri

  30. Elyse says:

    Last weekend, I had lunch with some Korean friends. Their son interrupted his college years for his two year mandatory stint in the Korean military. It is required for everyone (at least all males, I don’t know about women).

    Until it is everyone’s child at potential risk, our society will continue to pay only lip service, I’m afraid.

    And it is shameful.

  31. shoe1000 says:

    Sheri,
    What is being pointed out as being unique to veterans to me is happening to the general population. The underlying cause of mental health issues we face are emotional conflicts that are rampant in the whole culture.
    What is sad is that we cant take care of anyone in the society, let alone military veterans. I never served in the military but suffer from PTSD and the concomitant “mental” health issues that have devastated my life.
    I am glad you write about this issue, but as I have learned in 27 years of sobriety, until we address these issues as coming out of family and cultural habits, we are going to be swimming upstream on the issues you and I find vital to making the world better.
    Warmly
    Jim

    • Hello Jim – I well know veterans are not the only individuals suffering in today’s world. The numbers relevant to veterans represent their percentage of a given category. They are joined by many others in every category. I believe we can both agree it only takes one event for a person to slide down that slippery slope into the darkness of the rabbit hole. I too have PTSD and have struggled with it for well over 20 years and then of course there’s all the other side issues that come along with it.

      My husband has PTSD and he was in the military 20 years without a problem. It was being in a hospital for a medical procedure and being attacked that brought on his PTSD and it is as vicious as any I’ve seen. Those of us with PTSD know there’s no easy fix.
      Tom, my husband, has told me several times that if I weren’t his advocate he’d have become homeless so many times. And, my biggest fear has always been that he would always slip away into some unknown place and I’d never be able to find him again.

      Two of the largest segments of the homeless population are teen girls that started by running away from home and are caught up in human trafficking and the slave trade. The second category is elderly women with such small pensions they can no longer afford to pay rent and they are tossed out on the street. These two categories are especially difficult to work with and need so much help yet programs haven’t been developed and even if they had been, funding hasn’t been allocated.

      I’ll admit, I’m worried about the falling apart of the family and the generation we are graduating from college. Many of them tell me they feel hopeless and after a job search for those $80,000+ with perks, they haven’t been able to find anything so they are moving back home with mom and dad. IMO, there is something so wrong with this. Yes, I’d say, we’re both aware of the problems facing our culture today and we aren’t going to find a solution that will fit all. I do know one of the answers lies with the family wherein a mother and a father both participate actively in the raising of the children and shared family time is essential. Please stop by anytime. Sheri

      • shoe1000 says:

        Sheri,
        I just wanted to say that I appreciate your effort at bringing to light a problem that we seem to want to “sweep under the rug,” as we do with most externalities of our system.
        I am angry that we need to tax less, while making those who serve survive without services.
        I just heard a radio article in SF where there were over 13,000 letters, from Veterans, that went to a VA location in the SF Bay Area which were stuffed away and never answered. This is appalling but it is how we are starting to see the world as a culture.
        People dont matter as much as money does any more. We have certainly changed how we look at what we do in the world and it is sad.
        I appreciate your work to bring to the light issues that those who are in charge dont want to be brought to light. The question I have is why do we, the citizens, continue to put up with people in power who forget that they are human too.
        Warmly
        Jim

        • Jim – Don’t you think it’s about greed that our veterans aren’t taken care of. I see greed taking over almost every aspect of society and I fear for our lives. With greed comes a slovenly work ethic and a total breakdown in all services. I believe the 1% at the top are capable of pulling our country back into being almost a 3rd world or we’ll self-destruct in the process.
          Having worked in the world of white collar crime I’m not at all surprised by the 13,000 letters discovered at the VA location in the SF Bay Area. Be it a contractor working inside the VA [and some have more contracted employees than government employees and yes, they can both be equally bad] it’s unbelievable what’s found.

          • shoe1000 says:

            Sheri
            Yes I think it is about greed. Maybe a different way to see it is that it is about fear. But as long as we see the world in duality we are going to see things in those good/bad, right/wrong ways. Until we see the world as a group of perspectives that are numerous and diverse, we can always justify and rationalize our behavior as acceptable.
            Tough issues.
            Jim

            • Jim – Interesting comment. I had the opportunity to talk at length last evening with a dear friend who grew up comfortable and moved up rapidly in the world to the high six figures by the age of 30. His education was beyond reproach, his career stellar, family life absolutely amazing. I often wondered how he managed to make the time to coach so many of his kids sports teams and offer love and support in so many other ways. His wife had all of the same attributes. I always admired the entire family. Although their children were privileged, somehow none of them took on the behavior exhibited in so many of their peers.
              I know I’m going a long way around to get to my point, but during our visit last evening, we talked about a chain of events that’s led him to be looked at as an out-cast and set up for his children to be bulled. The oldest two are out of college but one daughter is a jr in high school. It’s a dreadful situation. This once confident man does not want to leave the house.
              What I’m taking away from our conversation last night is the remembrance of how fragile all of us are in this world through no fault of our own. I knew I was always in danger during my tenure in DC but hadn’t given it any thought living any place else.
              What I saw in DC was the abuse of power plus physical abuse and rampant crime just for the sake of committing crime. The fact that Homeland Security couldn’t achieve funding by this past Friday for a year of operation tells me a lot about the power play in DC and just how little reverence our elected leaders have for our lives. Sheri

  32. Participating in the wars of so many countries is killing our military personnel both physically and mentally, and to add insult to injury, they are not receiving the appropriate mental and physical health care after they return home to the States. This is unfair, illegal, appalling, sad, sickening.

  33. Terry says:

    It is an emotional roller coaster ride of sickening attitude when I read about the vets who are kicked to the curb, while many of them had no choice but to fight the war, and others who wanted to come back damaged in some way, and what do we who they fought for do? Nothing. The big shots close their eyes. I sometimes think the goal for the big boys is another touch down, one more died.

    • Terry – Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have started to thaw out.
      I was even more sickened when I read the new head of the VA has trouble sticking to the facts regarding his life.
      I understand he was trying to gain the trust of the homeless veteran he was talking with, however, don’t you think that veteran would have appreciated a voucher for a week or month in a clean shelter and 3 meals a day and perhaps counseling or whatever his special needs are.
      And the new director is reporting he fired 80 over the scandal in Arizona when it’s more likely to be 7 or 8. Shame on him! Telling fibs to sell toilet paper is one thing. We can always go to the store and buy another package and write to Procter and Gamble that there quality is declining and maybe they’ll send us a coupon voucher worth a new package. But, we can’t do that with our veterans. They’ve been sold a bill of goods for far too long.

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