What Will It Take To End Homelessness Among Veterans?

Our federal government has made a bold promise to end homelessness among veterans by 2015.

Is it realistic? I think so.

Just look at the numbers.

Experts believe less than 60,000 homeless veterans are now living on the streets. That’s down from 67,400 between 2010 and 2010, 75,600 in 2009, and 145,000 in 2008, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Coalition to End Veterans Homelessness, and news reports.

Yes, you read correctly --- today, we have 85,000 fewer homeless veterans than we did just four years ago.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki says the drop in homelessness is attributed to a two-part strategy that concentrates on taking veterans off the streets as well as preventing new veterans from ending up there, Newser.com reported. The former four-star general says his department is "on target" to meet the goal of ending homelessness by 2015.

So what will it take to end homelessness among veterans? Do you think it can be done by 2015?

Again, I think it can.

It will take a continuation of bipartisanship between lawmakers and the Obama administration. In recent years, there’s been a lot of mutual support to do everything possible for our troops and veterans. As a result, the budget for VA health care and other services to homeless veterans has risen from $3.6 billion in the 2010 budget year to the proposed $5.8 billion for 2013.

I believe spending on veterans is a necessity and ending veteran homelessness must be a top national priority. In fact, even more programs and staff need to be added to focus on the root issues that land veterans on the streets – mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, unemployment and poverty. 

At Veterans Support Organization, we are doing our share to end homelessness among veterans. We are giving unemployed veterans jobs and providing them with housing.

A person who has bravely served our country should not be living on the streets – ever.

Richard VanHouten is the founder and CEO of Veterans Support Organization. 

Veteran homelessness
Eric Shinseki