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Before the House Veterans’ Affairs Regarding National Commitment to End Veterans’ Homelessness

June 3, 2009

Good morning Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Buyer, and distinguished members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Thank you for giving Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) the opportunity to offer our comments on the National Commitment to End Veterans’ Homelessness.

Homelessness continues to be a significant problem for veterans. Among male homeless veterans those of the Vietnam Era are still of the highest percentage, although it is decreasing. Among women veterans this percentage is highest for those of the peace time era after Vietnam and before Gulf War I. In part this is due to the fact that until the end of the Vietnam Era, woman, by law, were only able to make up 2% of the Active Duty Force. The VA estimates about one-third of the adult homeless population have served their country in the Armed Services. Newly released population estimates suggest that about 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year.

Homelessness has varied definitions and many contributing factors. Among these factors are PTSD, a lack of job skills and education, substance abuse and mental-health problems. The homeless require far more than just a home. A comprehensive, individualized assessment and a rehabilitation/treatment program are necessary, utilizing the “continuum of care” concept. Assistance in obtaining economic stability for a successful self-sufficient transition back into the community is vital.

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