|In 2015 the Hur Herald spent several days with homeless veterans of WV photographing and writing their stories.|
HOMELESS FACES AND STORIES BREAK STEREOTYPE
WV Homeless veterans and their stories helped by SSVF to find housing
and get a mattress to sleep on. One said "I think it is a disgrace
in America to have two words together - homeless and veterans
By Bob Weaver 2015
The main reason people experience homelessness is because they cannot find housing they can afford, often coupled with unemployment and serious mental and emotional problems.
Despite stereotypes that homelessness is self-inducted by aimless alcoholics and the drug addicted, or that the homeless lack a work ethic, their faces and stories more often reveal a much different picture.
There is a well-worn phrase that most Americans are a couple paychecks from finding themselves homeless.
Veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless than other Americans due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing, many of them hampered by emotional and mental issues, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
About 53% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities.
Veterans tend to experience homelessness longer than their non-veteran peers, an average of nearly six years homeless, compared to four years reported among non-veterans.
SSVF Coordinator Thomas Ramey says the SSVF program is directed toward quickly finding housing following initial contact.
About 1.5 million veterans who have served in the country's military conflicts are considered at-risk of homelessness, having served in all wars from World War II to Afghanistan.
While the Veterans Administration serves about 85,000 homeless vets a year, an estimated 400,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year.
The Supportive Services for Veteran's Families (SSVF) program in Huntington, which also serves several West Virginia counties, is designed to lift very low-income veteran families out of homelessness and into stable permanent housing.
Through this program Southwestern Community Action and their SSVF program provides comprehensive assistance in the areas of case management, outreach, temporary financial assistance, and referrals to help in obtaining VA benefits.