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Homelessness still a problem for recent vets

Dec. 29, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

We are all glad to see our soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet, as with earlier military conflicts, we know that the transition for some of those young people can be difficult, and a recent report from the Department of Veterans Affairs bears that out.

Although the number of homeless veterans overall has dropped, the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is on the rise.

The September survey showed that 26,531 of those veterans were living on the streets, at risk of losing their homes, staying in temporary housing or receiving federal vouchers to pay rent, USA TODAY reported this week. That is double the number in 2010.

The VA suggests that part of the increase is the result of better monitoring and tracking, but officials also acknowledge that problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder can combine with the slow economy to make it difficult for this generation of veterans to find jobs and return to civilian life.

The good news is that programs to assist returning veterans have been expanded, and those efforts are showing positive results. About $300 million in grant money is available to community organizations working to promote housing stability and provide immediate support for veterans and their families.

But with more than 300,000 service people set to leave the military over the next four years, veterans are going to need that help and likely more. It is good to see a stronger focus on the problem, but there is a lot more work to do.

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