An October 11, 2011 report to Congress from the Veterans Administration stated there are roughly 76,000 homeless veterans in the country. It includes an estimate of roughly 500 homeless vets in the state of Minnesota.
The independent statewide Wilder Survey estimates there are closer to 700 homeless veterans on any given night.
Our friends at the Minnesota Veterans Assistance Council estimate 4100 of their state’s veterans will experience homelessness (or a crisis that could easily lead to it if unaddressed) this year.
Quite a difference.
In our opinion, trying to count homeless vets is like trying to count stars on a night when the clouds are moving fast, where the picture changes so quickly you’re bound to miss some if you take a snapshot.
We do know for certain that roughly 140 vets around the country commit suicide every week. Some are undoubtedly homeless.
Further, the old adage that states many Americans are just a couple missed paychecks away from being homeless obviously has some truth to it. In this economy, some unknown number of vets unquestionably lose their home or apartment daily.
Also, the U.S. Army reports that over 20% of our troops returning from current conflicts exhibit advanced PTSD symptoms. Some will inevitably swell the ranks of our homeless veteran population.
However, and on the brighter side of the story, a substantial yet again essentially undetermined number of formerly homeless vets graduate from transitional programs like those we support, regaining their independence and self-sufficiency, and leave the homeless rolls.
Others do so on their own, or with help from friends, family and community.
In short, no one really knows exactly how many homeless vets there are today in our region. The most accurate predictive statistic we can find indicates that just under 1% of all military vets will experience homelessness or a crisis that could lead to it if unaddressed in a given year.