From Defense to Desperation

We’ve featured stories about homelessness in the past on this show. Two years ago, we produced an award-winning documentary about homeless children. The problems that some people endure are often too complicated for any simple solution and for our military veterans it’s certainly no different. Of the 200-250,000 homeless vets on the street every night, a large percentage suffer from war-related memories, making it difficult for them to live normal lives. Some had mental illness and family problems before they ever entered the military. Some rely on the charity of people like H.R. Crawford. President Obama has allocated $75 million dollars to provide housing and services for an estimated 10, 000 veterans. What will or should happen to the remaining 200,000 homeless vets – that’s yet to be determined.

There is another even more detrimental consequence of veterans returning to civilian life without adequate preparation: increasingly, military veterans are taking their own lives. New numbers from the U.S. Army show that more soldiers died from suicide than combat wounds so far in 2009 and that the suicide rate among military personnel has doubled since 2003. The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a public campaign offering a suicide hotline to those in need. We can only hope they get the message and make the call before it’s too late.

That number is:

VA National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

For more information about the hotline, click here.

And for more information about homeless veterans and find out how you can help, see the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.