Homeless Veterans: A Vulnerable Population In America Research Paper Examples
The presumption that all veterans are supported and undergirded by the United States of America for which they fought and served is a misleading notion. United States soldiers return from war as heroes, with two national holidays to commemorate their service to their country. Yet on home soil many remain in a battle for a place of their own to call home. These veterans have fallen prey to the ills-inequalities of war and of society. Collaterally, they have been damaged and demoted to the ranks of the disadvantaged. The disadvantaged, typically have less power than the majority of their peers and fewer resources to dedicate to, or change their circumstances (Lewis et al, 2011).There are a large number of homeless veterans added to the ranks of the disadvantaged.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the vulnerable population of homeless veterans, five categories of impact: economic, social, psychological, health, political; and some of the stressors from each of those categories. Plus, my quadrant aligned hypothetical community counseling programs, inclusive of staff, length, and or time of service that will attempt to alleviate some of the addressed stressors.
The Stewart B. McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act as amended by S. 896 The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009, offers an in depth definition of homelessness to include no shelter as: nights spent in a car, abandoned building, on the streets, in a homeless shelter, transitional housing, institutional temporary residency, with family members or friends without paying rent.
Homeless Veterans: Definition
Homeless veterans by definition are a group of individuals who have served in the United States military, honorably discharged, and do not have shelter at night (Perl, 2013). Consequently, homeless veterans are a vulnerable population by definition, because they are a subgroup of the homeless population more likely to develop health problems, acute and chronic, or have greater systemic problems attributed to risks not experienced by the rest of the population (Perl, 2013).
There are 610,042 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. Of that number, 222,197 are people in families, and 387,845 are individuals. About 18 percent of the homeless population-109,132 - are considered "chronically homeless," and about 9 percent of homeless adults- 57,849 - are veterans. These numbers come from point-in-time counts, which are conducted, community by community, on a single night in January every other year. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities to submit this data every other year in order to qualify for federal homeless assistance funds.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA, 2011) states approximately 12% of the adult homeless population are veterans, predominantly male, with roughly 8% being female. Plus almost 40% of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, which accounts for 10.4% and 3.4% of the total U.S. veteran population. Additional demographics from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV, 2013) state: Homeless veterans are younger on average compared to the total veteran population. Nearly 9% are between the ages of 18 and 30, and 41% are between the ages of 31 and 50, 50% are age 51 or older. Moreover, 68% reside in principal cities, 32% reside in suburban and or rural areas, 51% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities, 50% have serious mental illness, 70% have substance abuse problems, and an estimated1. 5 million other veterans are considered susceptible-at risk to homelessness resulting from poverty, lack of support networks, and living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing (NCHV, 2013).
Causes of Veteran Homelessness
Causes of homelessness among Veterans are comparable to causes of homelessness among non-Veterans (interconnected economic and personal factors plus a shortage of affordable housing). In addition, Veterans experiencing homelessness have distinct characteristics that make regaining stability challenging. They are more likely to be unsheltered and to experience homelessness for longer periods of time than non-Veterans. Veterans have high rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and sexual assault, all of which increase the risk of homelessness. About half of Veterans experiencing homelessness have serious mental illness, half have a history with the criminal justice system, and nearly 70 percent have substance abuse disorders (United States Interagency Council on the Homeless (USICH), 2013).
Categories and stressors
Economic stressors of unemployment and underemployment; psychological stressors: brain injury trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual trauma; social: lack of social networks, isolation; health: physical disabilities, substance abuse; areal strongholds to homelessness that make it difficult for homeless veterans to regain stability and at risk veterans to maintain stability (Driscoll, 2006, Goldstein, 2010, VA, 2011, NCHV, 2013).
Psychological stressors affected the well-being of the veterans. . These were actually caused by presence of mental disorders, substance-related disorders and mental illness, which led to homelessness after discharge from active duty (Bush, 214). Following the diagnosis carried out over time, these veterans were diagnosed with mental disorders, categories of each six particular mental illness, and substance related disorder and TBI before first homeless episode.
Economic stressors involved factors that affected the status of the veterans in terms of their capability to sustain themselves in the economy. Unemployment and underemployment were the major factors leading to this. Growing economy with increasing unemployment rate were the reasons for homelessness. The deteriorating economy and less employment opportunities are the possible reasons why homelessness persists and grow increasingly in the US (Discoll et al 2006, Goldstein, 2010, NCHV 2013). Collapse of wages and income growth for over the last six months has also worsened the life of the veterans. Job stability and job opportunity has also affected the lives of the veterans
The political stressors include the law and the government that governs the community. Ending in the streets the veterans were found in conflict with the criminal justice system. Special veterans’ courts were placed to look into the problems. These courts were considering a Vet’s military service and experiences of war and no readjustment services making them to engage themselves in antisocial behaviors. Then court was focused on treatment and rehabilitation rather than jail time. These affected the veterans’ community as the laws placed were not favorable to them (Montgomery et al, 2014)
Problem and Transition Description
Policy and Homeless Veterans: Policy Description
The policy I will discuss is, the United States federal government’s McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
During President Ronald Reagan’s administration, homelessness was being solely fought on local community and government fronts strongly advocating for federal aid and legislature to help alleviate the growing challenges of homelessness. In 1984, days before the presidential election a social activist named Mitch Snyder went on a 51 day hunger strike to have a federally owned building converted to a homeless shelter .This focused strategy for community development received national attention and success. Then in 1986, a benefit event called Hands across America, raised money to contest homelessness in local areas. Seven million people joined hands to form a human chain that covered over 4,000 miles across the cities of America. This broad based strategy facilitating community development- advocacy effort helped shape the first federal homelessness legislation.
The Homeless Persons' Survival Act was introduced in both houses of Congress in 1986 .Consequently only parts of the legislation initially passed. The Homeless Eligibility Clarification Act of 1986 which removed address requirements for a number of federal programs such as: Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Benefits, Food Stamps, and Medicaid. In the same year, the Homeless Housing Act created Emergency Shelter Grants-funds to build and operate emergency shelters for homeless individuals (NCH, 2006). In late 1986, the Urgent Relief for the Homeless Act was introduced to Congress as the first major piece of federal legislation on homelessness (NCH, 2006; Brief One, 2014). This bill contained parts of the original Homeless Person’s Survival Act and passed through Congress inspiring of 1987. It was renamed the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, in memory of its key Republican sponsor, and on July 22, 1987, President Reagan signed the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act into law (NCH, 2006, Brief One, 2014).
October of 2000, President Bill Clinton renamed the bill the McKinney-Vento Act in honor and memory of the bill’s co-author Bruce F. Vento, who co-labored with McKinney in the fight against homelessness (NCH, 2006, Brief One, 2014). Then, on May 20, 2009, President Obama signed the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009 (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD], 2014).It is the amended, renamed, and reauthorized McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act (HUD, 2014).
Policy Impact on the population
Through the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act, and the amended reauthorized HEARTH Act, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), consisting of nineteen agencies: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development(HUD), Interior, Labor, Transportation, Veterans Affairs (VA), Corporation for National and Community Service (formerly ACTION), Federal Emergency Management Agency (now under the Dept. of Homeland Security), General Services Administration, Postmaster General, Social Security Administration, Department of Justice, Office of Management and Budget, White House Office of Faith‐Based and Community Initiatives; was established and is an independent federal agency of the executive branch (USICH, 2014).It is the USICH’s mission to "coordinate the Federal response to homelessness and to create a national partnership at every level of government and with the private sector to reduce and end homelessness in the nation while maximizing the effectiveness of the federal government in contributing to the end of homelessness" (USICH, 2014).
I will plan my program using the Generalized Model of Program Planning. This program assesses the needs of the community and forms intervention to problems affecting those needs. It involves five major steps to be followed;
Need Assessment; this involves looking into the needs of the community. It is good to fulfill the basic needs first before engaging the community into a more extended requirement for the research to be successful. To know the needs of the community, one can use observation. One can go in the community and observe the daily practices and the cultural set up. One can observe the environmental set up of the community and notice the gap which needs to be filled status of the community. Observing the kind of structures in the community may tell one the economic or financial status of the people of that community. Asking questions is another way of finding about the needs of the community. One may decide to find out about the history of the community from the community themselves. This may lead one to know why something is existing in the community. To find out of people having mental disorders in the community will force me to ask their families or close4 friends about how the mental S disorder began. Observation and questionnaire are simple and easy to use.
Goals and objectives; for the achievement of my goals and objectives I will use the student and the parents and the elders who are old enough to know the history of the community. I will make a committee of learned individuals and the administration to assist in the making o9f goals and objectives.
Developing Intervention; this is the important stage that determines whether one will achieve objectives or not. The intervention made should be towards achieving of the objectives. In making the intervention one needs to consult the community to see the possibility of the interventions.
Implement the intervention; the putting of intervention into action depends on the agreement between the researcher and the community
Evaluate the intervention; this all depends on the researcher. Evaluation requires skilled personnel. This is important because he is the one to see the benefits the community is
going to get from the program.
Facilitating Human Development: Focused;
This program is involved in helping individual gain access to community resources. This is usually used to address needs of particular individuals (Lewis, 2011). Comprehensive nature of the model for community affects the way programs are designed. It includes both outreach activities and office based counseling. The approach applied is the unified approach. The counselor is expected to view his role as broad and multifaceted. This program is good in alleviation of poverty in the community, by looking for solutions to unemployment and access to basic needs.
Facilitating human development: broad;
Here counselors are able to train the community at large. These interventions are developmental and preventive as they are offered to community members who view that they have no problem at all. The purpose of this is helping them community knowledge to prepare to deal with the coming challenges
Facilitating Community Development: Focused;
This is needs to prepare the community members to be their selves’ advocates. Advocacy refers to integral to counseling process. Having being aware of external factors that acts as barrier to human development, the counselors respond through advocacy (Lewis et al, 2002) .The staff members will therefore identify the risks that the community are likely to be exposed to and look for the ways of preventing them from occurring. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and Independence Practice Association (IPA) will be there to monitor the health and the well-being of the community members by creating access to good health facilities and creating employment opportunities through creation of projects.
Facilitating Community Development: Broad;
This involves counselors getting into greater a broad advocacy. They recognize and act on need for change. Nature of counselors on collaborative actions. Participating in a coalition is very essential. A coalition involves the coming together of two or more parties to form a broader party. The coalition formed will involve community organization and government organization dealing in health and drugs. The coalition will be towards promoting awareness on drug abuse and engaging community in building of projects that creates employment opportunities.
Preventing Problem and Transition Techniques
Unemployment problems are prevented by formation of programs that monitor employment. The formation of The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) was towards provision of employment. Building of rehabilitation centers was in place to monitor substance abuse direct towards prevention of mental disorders’. Health programs were also put in place to provide quality health at lower cost.
Professional and Personal Plan.
Having applied the programs and followed the best protocol of intervention, the problem in the community can be solved easily and the goals achieved. This gives promise to change in the community and a follow-up should be made to see a progress in the community.
Driscoll, J., (2006, October). Report of the veteran homelessness work groups at the
National symposium for the needs of young veterans. National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Washington, DC. Page 249
Fargo, J., Metraux, S., Byrne, T., Munley, E., Montgomery, A. E., Jones, H., Sheldon, G., Kane, V. & Culhane, D. (2012). Prevalence and risk of homelessness among US veterans.
Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy
Goldstein, G. L. (2010). Factor structure and risk factors for the health status of homeless veterans. Psychiatric Quarterly. Page311-323
In Bush, S. S. (2014). Psychological assessment of veterans. Page 466
Lewis, J. A. (2011). Community counseling: A multicultural-social justice perspective. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. Page 15
Montgomery, A. E., Fargo, J., Kane, V., & Culhane, D. P. (2014). Development and validation of an instrument to assess imminent risk of homelessness among veterans. Public Health Reports. Page 428-436.
National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2014).National law center on homelessness and
Poverty, Harvard University
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. (2013). Faq about homeless veterans.
Retrieved on October 4, 2014, from http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/
Perl, L. (2013, November). Veterans and homelessness. Congressional Research Service,
Washington, DC. Page 56
U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. (2011). Veterans homelessness prevention demonstration program (VHPD), Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC, USA. Page 1
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2013).Veterans. United States
Interagency Council on Homelessness, Washington, D.C.Page 8