The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) set a goal of of eliminating the problem of veteran homelessness by 2015, and according to recent findings it looks like officials are well on their way to reaching this. The 2011 figures found that on any given night, approximately 67,000 vets were homeless, a substantial 12 percent decline from the year before, The Associated Press reports.
Eric Shinseki, the VA Secretary, recently honored the strides being made during an appearance at a Denver resources center for homeless veterans. The center, which opened earlier this year, is aimed at helping vets and their families get back on their feet. The effort in Colorado is one of many across the country aimed at supporting the VA's ambitious goal.
"As we drive toward our goal to end homelessness among veterans by 2015, VA continues to find innovative ways to permanently house veterans who were formerly homeless," said Shinseki in a recent announcement of $28 million in funding for homeless vets. "Under President Obama's leadership, we have made incredible strides in creating programs to aid these brave men and women who have served our nation so well."
Addressing veteran homelessness is one of the many issues the VA and other organizations are seeking to address as tens of thousands of troops are expected to separate from service over the next few years. One of the most pressing concerns rests in helping troops with mental health issues get the assistance they need in a timely fashion. However, a report earlier this year found that almost half of veterans seeking help waited 50 days to receive it, notes the AP.
The need for addressing mental health issues has been met with a growing number of treatment methods, reports The New York Times. One of the most ambitious is the military's Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program, which runs through a soldier's entire experience in the Armed Forces. Specifically, it includes resiliency training and encourages soldiers to seek mental health counseling.
Perhaps the greatest challenge of all is addressing the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other traumatic brain injuries. There are not set figures, but experts estimate that approximately 20 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have some form of PTSD.
In addition to homelessness and PTSD, unemployment is a concern as well. Veterans looking for assistance with the job hunt can visit AFBA's Career Center, which helps pair employers and recruiters with qualified servicemembers.