Dear Future President,
Driving through the same suburban California streets of my hometown, I have noticed a significant increase in homelessness. According to a recent survey, over half a million people live on the streets in the United States of America. This social conflict is a problem for both the homeless and society as a whole. The homeless can affect society through sanitation issues, committing crimes, and driving away business from shops. Seeing someone begging for money on the streets has become so commonplace that we often pass by without a second thought.
As President Obama once said, “too many of those who once wore our nation's uniform now sleep in our nation’s streets”. One may begin to question why someone who served in the military is significantly more susceptible to homelessness in comparison to someone who has never served our country. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, one fifth of the homeless population are veterans. This shocking statistic is disheartening to think that those who willingly served our country are now treated with very little respect on the streets. By exposure to combat and war zones, psychological traumas such as PTSD often haunt soldiers even after they retire. The NAEH also claims many veterans suffer from a "culture shock" upon their return from the war zone. This results in their inability to conform to society, often leading to frustration and substance abuse. Substance abuse accounts for seventy percent of homelessness in veterans. In addition, over fifty percent of homeless veterans suffer from mental disabilities.
Veterans can receive mental care from the Department of Veterans Affairs for a broad range of mental health conditions such as substance abuse disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and treatment from serious mental illnesses. The Department of Veterans Affairs is a major contributor to assisting veterans, although not all veterans are reached by this program. Solving the problem of helping veterans in need is a large issue, and only twenty percent are assisted by this program. According to a recent survey by Green Door Behavioral Health Services, 400,00 veterans are left unreached and without supportive services. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is addressing this growing issue through a program to end veteran homelessness called The Mayors Challenge. In this program initiative, over 800 city and county officials are involved in striving to end Veteran homelessness by the end of the year.
I believe that the president needs to take an active role in taking care of the soldiers who serve and protect our country. The U.S. Government needs to finance additional federal grants and create more veteran services in order to reach all of the veterans in need. By doing so we can end veteran homelessness, and create stability and security for those who return to American soil from war. Driving down the streets with a smaller homeless population will make our citizens feel more empowered to help those in need.