The New Wave of Veteran Homeless

We’re all glad to have so many soldiers coming back home from Iraq. But what kind of future do they face as they adjust to life stateside?

A recent article by StreetRoots highlights:

  • The Oregon National Guard has the highest rate of suicide among all U.S. National Guards.
  • Thanks to medical advances, more veterans are surviving combat wounds. This also means a higher percentage of veterans are returning with physical and cognitive disabilities.
  • Veterans are especially susceptible to substance abuse due to the addictive pain killers they’re prescribed.
  • The downward spiral of a veteran into homelessness usually doesn’t happen right away. It often takes about 3 years of struggle with PTSD, decay of supportive relationships, employment difficulties and increasing substance abuse.
  • Veterans often find it easier to stick up for a buddy than to ask for help themselves. They’re upheld as strong heroes and may have a difficult time admitting they need help.


From the StreetRoots blog: “A long way from home: Soldiers return from the battlefields”

Ryan McNabb was a medic in the Marine Corps for six years. He deployed twice to Iraq and worked on the front lines, experiencing, he says, what you’d expect to experience on a battlefield. He returned home in February 2006.

A few months later, he got in a fight and assaulted two police officers. He chalked it up to normal drunken sailor stuff — just blowing off steam.

When he blacked out in rage, while driving 65 miles per hour with his wife and five-month old son in the back seat, he realized it wasn’t normal any more.

“I know I’m an intelligent human being. I know why babies cry, and they’re trying to inform me of something,” McNabb said. “But with PTSD, I don’t like large sharp sounds. It reminds me of gunshots and explosions. My son had wet himself. He started to cry. I was driving. While he’s screaming at the back of my head, he’s screaming at my soul, which set me off. So I start screaming at my wife, while going 65 miles per hour down the freeway. She shouts back at me. I rip the rearview mirror off and threw it at the floorboard. I grabbed the GPS and threw it at the windshield and it spiderwebbed going 65 mph with my wife and child in back seat. I blacked out in rage. I don’t remember pulling to the side of the road at all.”

>> Read the full article