Repeated and long deployments, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injuries are contributing to high rates of homelessness among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The numbers are disturbingly high for a war that’s still being waged:
Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.
"We're going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous," said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.
With such a high number of homeless veterans, "advocates say more financial resources still are needed." Also adding to the financial costs of American fighting overseas: health care. The mental and physical health care needs of returning vets is likely to strain our health care system, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility, who estimate the long-term costs of caring for returning vets as over $650 billion.
The liberal group, which shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, estimated that the long-term financial burden to care for a new generation of veterans will far outstrip the amount of money spent on combat operations in Iraq. (From The Boston Globe)