Veterans Day: Nearly 1 Million Vets Live in Poverty
While the country closed up shop and threw parades and warm memorials for America’s veterans on Monday, researchers found the nearly one million veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 will be spending their Veterans Day in poverty. An estimated 968,000 vets have been in poverty over the past year.
In a Veterans Day interview with WCBS in New York, Margarette Purvis, the president of the Food Bank for New York City, told listeners that 40 percent of veterans in New York City had to rely on soup kitchens – an official estimate of 95,000 people.
New York is merely a microcosm of the dire situation for veterans around the country. A hugely disproportionate amount of veterans are homeless. There are nearly 70,000 homeless veterans in the US and one in seven homeless adults is a veteran. Another 1.5 million veterans are considered “at risk” for homelessness. More than 33,000 veterans live in government housing.
It’s no surprise considering how difficult it has been for recent veterans to find a job upon their return. Veterans who have served since 2001 have an unemployment rate of more than 10 percent while veterans 18 to 24 have an unemployment rate of 30.2 percent.
Veterans also can’t get access to the help many of them need after returning from the war zone, further complicating their return to normalcy. At least 20 percent of returning veterans have PTSD or depression and 50 percent of those with PTSD did not seek treatment. Not only do these problems prevent veterans from gaining employment, they lead to staggering suicide rates. In 2012, more veterans committed suicide than soldiers died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans now account for one if five suicides in America and veterans commit suicide at a rate of one each day.
It’s clearly a different world than the one that Vietnam and Gulf War veterans returned to. Young veterans who enlisted post-9/11 have among the highest unemployment rates of any national demographic. In a country that doesn’t believe in leaving a single soldier behind on the battlefield, the Veterans Affairs administration is quick to leave hundreds of thousands behind upon their return.
(Image courtesy of DVIDSHUB)