Responding to a crisis or a disaster is a perfect strategy in the mission of “ending Veteran homelessness.” It is estimated as recently as 2021 that nearly 1,400,000 Veterans throughout the United States are at risk of becoming homeless at any given time. The only difference between a homeless Veteran and an at-risk Veteran is that one is still paying on a lease or a mortgage. Veterans who live below the poverty line, who risk unemployment, pay over half of their income on housing, are diagnosed with a mental illness or substance use disorder, or suffer from a disability are at a greater risk of becoming homeless. Over 67% of homeless Veterans served in the military for at least three years and 33% were stationed in a war zone. Many Veterans struggle with issues of post-traumatic stress, with either subtle or dynamic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Other Veterans have return home with a greater dependence of drugs or other substances and/or are managing difficult symptoms of a mental illness. Those at risk are just as isolated, alone and guarded in their relationship with others and their community. Many women hide the knowledge of their military service, and suffer in secret.
There is no event or circumstance that will push a Veteran into greater isolation, unemployment and into homelessness more quickly than the destruction of their home from a fire, flood, hurricane or some other natural disaster. It is our turn and our time to make a difference; to extend our arm of service.
In The Journey Home’s (TJH) mission to “end Veteran homelessness,” our primary objective is to connect Veterans to local, regional, and national communities. The most efficient path in reaching this end is to lift up and support communities in their capacity and ability to connect with and support their Veterans. It is not the government’s, the VA, or organizations like TJH that are the most effective in helping a lost or hurting or broken Veteran rebuild their lives. It is you; their families, their neighbors, the community their live in. Service and Veteran men and women have experienced life-changing events and moments in isolation of their families, neighbors and communities, without words or a sense of connection that allows them to share. As a result, they come home feeling disconnected from those relationships that are most important. Their “love of Country” is rooted in their love for family, neighbors and for their community. They served us. It is time for all of us to serve them. To show them that their service is not been forgotten.