Iraq

Surge of Homeless Vets

| Thu Nov. 8, 2007 5:02 PM EST

For those looking into the real costs of the war in Iraq, as Mother Jones did in our Iraq 101 package, it's been evident for some time that as soldiers returned from war, rates of homelessness would spike.

The New York Times reports:

"We're beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters," said Phil Landis, chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, a residence and counseling center. "But we anticipate that it's going to be a tsunami."

In fact, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are turning heroes into homeless people faster and more efficiently than Vietnam did.

Special traits of the current wars may contribute to homelessness, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, which can cause unstable behavior and substance abuse, and the long and repeated tours of duty, which can make the reintegration into families and work all the harder.

If that weren't depressing enough, because women are seeing far more combat in 21st century wars, more of them are turning up homeless, too. One major risk factor is sexual abuse: 40 percent of homeless female vets report being raped by other American soldiers while on active duty.

And in case you weren't thinking it already, all this for what, exactly?

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