The Sky is Falling!

It seems one in every four homeless people is a military veteran, according to a recent report. That’s 25 percent, while veterans in general represent only about 11 percent of the adult population. Alliance to End Homelessness based its numbers on VA and Census Bureau data. Those are probably reliable stats. Here are the hard numbers we’ve seen based on data available for 2005: Of 744,313 homeless people in the U.S., 194,254 were veterans.

The implication from the media coverage thus far seems to be there might be a strong cause-and-effect relationship between military service and homelessness.

We’re not so sure.

Though one local VA director went on record about current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, warning, “We’re going to be having a tsunami of them [homeless] eventually, because the mental health toll from this war is enormous,” the VA headquarters in Washington takes a more pragmatic approach, stating upfront that family background, support networks, and personality traits are better indicators of homelessness than military service.

No surprise there. The VA’s analysis makes more sense to us, and we wondered if those predisposed to homelessness might choose military service because it can offer one a haven from mainstream society.

Regardless of the reasons for homelessness, we might soon see grandstanding on this issue from veterans groups, homeless advocates, and members of Congress. How can anyone appear opposed to helping homeless vets, especially in the current climate? Facts aside, additional funds might be funneled toward this issue, which might not be the VA’s to tackle. The VA already has myriad programs addressing the needs of homeless veterans — medical and dental care, housing, counseling and training to name a few. A dedicated framework already seems to be in place if this supposed tsunami if it ever occurs.

Still, we’re not so sure of the correlation, and we say “Relax Chicken Little.”

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