Homeless Shelters Getting Iraq Vets
United Press International
December 8, 2004
WASHINGTON - Veterans of the war in Iraq are starting to show up at homeless shelters, experts say.
"When we already have people from Iraq on the streets, my God," said Linda
Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "I
have talked to enough (shelters) to know we are getting them. It is happening
and this nation is not prepared for that."
Some homeless-veteran advocates fear that similar combat experiences in Vietnam
and Iraq mean that these first few homeless veterans from Iraq are the crest of
a wave not seen since the Vietnam era.
"This is what happened with the Vietnam vets. I went to Vietnam," said John
Keaveney, chief operating officer of New Directions, a shelter and
drug-and-alcohol treatment program for veterans in Los Angeles. "It is like
watching history being repeated," Keaveney said.
Experts said the high number of Iraq vets with mental illness seems almost
certain to fuel the problem.
Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that as of last July, nearly
28,000 veterans from Iraq sought health care from the VA. One out of every five
was diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to the VA. An Army study in the
New England Journal of Medicine in July showed that 17 percent of service
members returning from Iraq met screening criteria for major depression,
generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD.
Sound Off...What do you think?
Join the discussion.
Copyright 2004 United Press International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.