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Running head: Homelessness 1
The purpose of this research is to examine the causes of veteran homelessness, mainly looking
at the cohort group who joined the military after 1974. The particular cohort investigated are
from peacetime military and the first enlisted under the all-volunteer military. The investigation
looks at previous military life, military service and post military experience to try to explain the
reasons this cohort is most affected with homelessness.
In the 1980’s surveys conducted on homelessness, the high proportions of veterans
among the homeless was found to be forty-one percent, where in the general population only
thirty-four percent ever served in the military (Rosenheck et al. 1994). The homeless veteran’s
largest proportions were from peacetime service, meaning they were not part of a conflict or
Veterans that served after Korean War to the beginning of Vietnam Conflict and Post-
Vietnam Conflict were the highest among the homeless veterans. What is the connections
needed to understand why peacetime veterans are have a higher risk of homelessness,
compared to veterans that serve during conflicts (Rosenheck et al. 1994)?
The risk of becoming homeless is more likely to happen to someone who served in the
military than someone who has never served (Gamache et al. 2001, Rosenheck et al. 1994).
That is where understanding of what about the military veteran that makes them at more risk
than other groups.
The problem that needs understanding why are veterans permeating the homeless
population at higher rates than those numbers in occur in the general society. If the society
population means were the same as the homeless population then only roughly two percent
would be homeless. The research question to answered is how can we prevent a repeat of
higher veteran homelessness in the future, is their pre-military background, time in service or
post-military factors that affect the veteran population?
This research project is going to examine the homeless veteran situation through
literature review and with interviews of veterans based on their life experiences before the
military, military service and post military life to try and explain who and why veterans are at
risk of becoming homeless.
Review of Literature
The literature on the research on veteran homelessness started in the 1980’s when
society in general was concerned about homelessness. The original studies started by thinking
most of the homeless were Vietnam Veterans but instead they found that the majority were
post-Vietnam (Rosenheck et al. 1994).
“The Proportion of Veterans among Homeless Men” (Rosenheck et al. 1994) examines
homelessness and veterans high rate among homeless men. The largest cohort of veterans
were not the ones that suffered from war trauma, but those were served in peacetime and
volunteered for the military instead of conscription. Even those from a certain time of
conscription that was peacetime after Korea and before Vietnam had higher rates of
homelessness (Rosenheck et al. 1994).
The main age groups affected at the time of the study was twenty years of age to thirty-
five years and forty-five to fifty-four years old. Both of these groups were not part of combat
operations and the first group was part of the first to be part of the all-volunteer military.
The data showed that white veterans had higher rates of high school diplomas, married
and also living alone in comparison to the nonveterans who were homeless of the same ages.
Mental disorder of anti-social disorder is also five to six times higher among veterans
(Rosenheck et al. 1994).
Another research team decided to look at the veteran numbers among the homeless
again to see if the original numbers were valid or just a one-time occurrence, and they found
the same age groups from previous study had aged also by ten years. The demographic group
of the original study of twenty to thirty-four year olds had aged to thirty to forty-four years of
age (Gamache et al. 2001).
In 1997, another research team looked at the phenomena about homeless veterans
from the all-volunteer military led by Gail Gamache, which included the original member of the
first research that found the cohort group. The research was not longitudinal because they did
not have the original individuals from the first research (Gamache et al. 2001).
Veterans were still over represented in this particular age cohort and the same
hypothesis remained that “poorly adjusted young men” were admitted to the military
(Gamache et al. 2001). The young men during July 1974 to 1984 were of lower socioeconomic
backgrounds and had fewer family connections. The individuals seem to have more behavioral
problems along with alcohol and drug issues.
The same issues seemed from the 1987 research, be still relevant in 1997. All those who
were part of the peacetime military still have a 1.38 odds ratio of becoming homeless with the
cohort of thirty five to forty-four year olds at the highest of 2.90 odds ratio (Gamache et al.
Other results showed white males were at greater risk of homelessness than black men
were, and as a male gets older into the forty-five range the odds increase on chances of
becoming homeless. With limited formal support from the VA due to non-wartime events, the
assistance is not available for treatments for issues they may have suffered from either pre-
military or from during their military experiences (Gamache et al. 2001).
Theory of causes or reasons for veteran homelessness has been suggested to social
selection (Tessler et al. 2003). Richard Tessler and his team examined the reasons for those
who have joined the military after June 30, 1973 and what pre-existing issues that veterans
could have had prior to joining the military.
The pre-existing conditions help people sort themselves into groups or organizations
they feel attuned to. The military provided those with low-skills, lower education and
socioeconomic conditions an opportunity to escape their conditions of living (Tessler et al.
2003). However, unfortunately the individuals in question carried with them the same issues
while in the military with them.
The main purpose of the research was to examine was why veterans experiencing
longer terms of homelessness compared to nonveterans are. Longer terms of homelessness are
connected to those who from a certain cohort shares similar issues. One was the abuse of
alcohol and drugs. Less family ties because of possible dysfunction in the homes of those who
joined the military because those who at a younger age placed in foster care show lower rates
of homeless periods compared to those who were not in foster care (Tessler et al 2003).
The factors involved in veterans reasoning for homelessness is multifaceted and
complex from the time period in which they joined, family ties, psychiatric illness, and alcohol
abuse. Each one of these can contribute but veterans show more signs of these issues than
nonveterans which leads to longer terms so homelessness (Tessler et al 2003).
The National Center on Homelessness among Veterans with the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs in August of 2011 provided a report that explained the homeless situation for
homelessness among veterans. The main issue was the age cohort from the post-Vietnam era,
those who were part of the All-Volunteer Military and also provided data on women veterans
which most of the initial research conducted not examine (Fargo et al. 2011).
The investigated supported the theory on social selection for part of the reasoning
behind the homeless issues for the age cohort from 1974 to 1984. The personal traits of those
who joined the military of this time had issues with mental illness, weak family ties, and alcohol
and drug problems before joining the military (Fargo et al. 2011).
The research on female veterans is quite limited and not to the extent of the male
research conducted. The information provided is contrary, females veterans are from the
Vietnam era, they do not have the same age cohort effect that males have. But, female
veterans that was examined are at greater risk of homelessness by up to four times the risks
compared to other female nonveterans.
The research conducted used data from Point-in-Time (PIT) survey conducted by
Housing and Urban Development in 2011 along with tracking by Homeless Management
Information System (HMIS) to calculate the number of homeless veterans. The sources were
from Continuum of Care facilities which produced the Annual Homeless Assessment Report
(AHAR), along with the VA creating the Vet-AHAR (Fargo et al. 2001). The overall assessment
was with PIT was 75,609 homeless veterans on any given day with an overall status for the year
being 136,334 homeless veterans.
The information also gathered was based on sex, age, race/ethnicity and Poverty rates.
The sex main demographic is ninety-two percent of homeless males, while females and married
homeless veterans made up the last eight percent. Seventeen percent of males and almost
three percent of females reported as veterans, where in the overall population, twenty percent
of males and 1.4 percent of females are veterans (Fargo et al. 2001).
This data is a reverse from earlier research that male veterans were over represented in
the homeless population, which females now are being overrepresented. This information is a
change from earlier research that showed males being over represented in homeless
The age demographics reveal that older a veterans get the higher the risks of being
homeless increases. The current age with highest over representation are from fifty-one to
sixty-one of age and the youngest group being from eighteen to thirty years old. The first group
are from the age cohort after Vietnam and the second are from current military experiences
both wartime and peacetime (Fargo et al. 2001).
Race and Ethnicity did not provide any separation from general population in the main
groups of White, Black and Hispanic, but Asians, Pacific-Islanders, and American Indians did
have over representation among the homeless population compared to their general
populations (Fargo et al. 2001).
A new demographic used with this research was looking at the poverty rates and using
them as a way to measure risks to homelessness. The data showed that veterans were
underrepresented in poverty rates compared to general population. The poverty rates for
veterans was 5.6 percent compared to general population at 10.9 percent. The data though is
used to compare veterans in poverty to other veterans. This data is better to determine the
actual risks of veterans becoming homeless (Fargo et al. 2001).
By comparing poverty rates among the veterans population actual rates of being
homelessness among veterans the risk of becoming homeless is 12.6 percent compared to
general population at a risk of 6.5 percent. The veterans are double the risks of becoming
homeless (Fargo et al. 2001).
The overall results from this study provided the risks and demographics of today’s
homeless situation among veterans. The most startling data shows female veterans have the
highest risk of ninety-seven percent compared to men at forty-seven percent odds of being
homeless (Fargo et al. 2001). Also provided was the first to participate in the AVF are still
higher, but also in the general population also for the same age cohort.
The demographics of veterans at risk of homelessness is also examined by Ann
Montgomery and team by examining veterans that us Veterans Health Administration
Homeless Program (VHA) for services (Montgomery et al. 2014). This study examines both male
and female risks by those who use outpatient care over a three month period.
The study conducted used data collected from the Homelessness Screening Clinical
Reminder (HSCR) used to screen veterans for risks of homelessness accessing outpatient care
(Montgomery et al. 2014). The time period covered was a total of three months of data that
consisted only those actively accessing outpatient care. Those excluded included those not seen
in six months, incomplete data and denial of doing survey (Montgomery et al. 2014).
The demographics collected were age, race separated into three groups, marital status,
and VHA enrollment priority groups, which indicates level of VA compensation and very
whether the veteran is very low income (Montgomery et al. 2014).
The study example consisted of 1,582,125 veterans with a further breakdown of
107,504 are females (Montgomery et al. 2014). The main information gathered is male veterans
are 93.2 percent of the population using VHA, 69.9 percent are white and a third of the females
were married compared to two/thirds males married (Montgomery et al. 2014).
The females using VHA in which two/thirds are receiving VA compensation where only
half of the men receive compensation. Also data revealed those using VHA outpatient care only
0.8 percent were homeless, and 1.1 percent were at risk of homelessness. The rest were
negative of risks of homelessness (Montgomery et al. 2014).
Females from the ages of forty-five to fifty-four had a higher risks of homelessness, as
with those were not listed as white, but marital status was a large indicator of risk to
homelessness and those not receiving VA compensation or Medicaid (Montgomery et al. 2014).
Younger females were more likely to not report risk of homelessness where older females from
the age of thirty-five to fifty-four did report risks, but those under age thirty-four. Even though
the older group did report a risk, they did not show in the numbers and were at less risk than
those under thirty-five years of age (Montgomery et al. 2014).
Men over the age of fifty-five were less likely to report homelessness risks, where those
younger than thirty-five were also less likely to report a risk of homelessness. The middle ages
of thirty-five to fifty-four were more likely to report risks to homelessness. Black males were at
a higher risks as with those not receiving VA compensation. Marital status as single also had
higher risks than married (Montgomery et al. 2014).
The risks of being homeless using VHA outpatient care shows that females older than
thirty-five to fifty-four were at greater risks but also had fewer supports than younger female
veterans, who listed may be living at parents’ home. When compared by race black females are
also at greater risks than white females. The same can be said for black men compared to white
men (Montgomery et al. 2014). Other data not collected by reviewed by researchers dealt with
women issues of homelessness, which included other social factors as violence, lack of housing,
child rearing as a single parent and low wage employment (Montgomery et al. 2014).
Another research project by Ann Elizabeth Montgomery was the ‘Development and
Validation of an Instrument to Assess Imminent Risk of Homelessness Among Veterans”
(Montgomery. 2014). The sole purpose was to devise a way to assess the risks to veterans to
The study consisted of looking at three parts of the problem, first, how to identify those
at risk, second, what households are at risk and third, what causes the particular issues of
homelessness of those surveyed(Montgomery et al. 2014). The main focus and instrument of
concern was based on housing instability past ninety days to next ninety days (Montgomery et
al. 2014). Of the three hundred and seven nine veterans surveyed at outpatient clinics and
included into their medical records, fifty four percent were listed as moderate to high risk of
homelessness (Montgomery et al. 2014).
The newest cohort of veterans to be examined are those who served in Iraq and
Afghanistan Conflicts. Stephen Metraux and team examine the “Risk Factors for Becoming
Homeless Among a Cohort of Veterans Who Served in the Era of the Iraq and Afghanistan
Conflicts” (Metraux. 2013).
The methods involved was a five year study of those who separated from the military
during the period of July 1, 2005 to September 30 2006 (Metraux. 2013). The subjects followed
who used VA services and tracked for incidences of homelessness. The demographic
information collected was ages, sex, race/ethnicity, type of discharge, military branch. Also
collected was physical impairment along with mental issues fromserving in either operations in
Iraq or Afghanistan.
What was found is those who are the lowest paygrades (E-1 to E-4) and also the group
with higher ratings for TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder (Metraux. 2013). The male
population being in the highest risks due to being in both conflict operations, but other
information from the tables is most of the individuals at the highest risks also served in the
Army. The Air Force had lower rates as with the Navy, but those who served in active combat
zones had a greater chance of developing both psychotic disorders and substance abuse issues
Females had higher risk of becoming homeless from psychotic disorders but less for
substance abuse disorders than men (Metraux. 2013). The risks is also high for those discharged
early with either Other than Honorable discharges to Bad Conduct Disorders (Metraux. 2013).
The study was only using data available at the time from the VA health services and not
all individuals that were discharged at this time use VA services and those who are discharged
early with Dishonorable discharges and higher are not available for services from the VA. But,
with the data and demographics we can conclude that those who are the youngest, lowest pay
grade and served in the Army are the greatest risk of homelessness, but anyone that served in
either area of operations do have a risk (Metraux. 2013).
Research Plan and Methodology
The methodological approach used in this research is direct interviews with veterans
both homeless currently and those who were homeless in the past year. Both male and females
will be asked to be interviewed. The questions of the interviews will be looking for similarities
from their lives previous to joining the military, reasons for joining the military. The questions
during their military experiences will include drug and alcohol use and reasons for leaving the
military whether voluntary to involuntary discharge (Appendix A).
Each participant identity will be kept confidential and only demographic information will
be taken as identifiers such as age, sex, race/ethnicity and branch of service. Other data will be
collected will be drug use before, during and after military service, along with alcohol use.
Physical and mental diagnosis will also be used due to these have shown a factor in veteran
The role used during research is observer/participant due to the interaction from
previous exposure to the veterans at Jackson Street Commons in which I worked to gain their
trust and understanding that I am only there to help and understand their issues.
Permission has been given by the staff of Jackson Street Commons and from
Coordinated Assisted Ministries to conduct interviews and complete questionnaires to gain
better insight on the homeless issues. The only issue of concern I had for conducting the
research interviews was participation from enough individuals and especially those of the right
cohort that is of interest.
Presentation of Observations
Observations made while performing research are as such eighty-seven percent of
respondents are male, and eighty percent are white males which is consistent with other
studies that have presented demographic information, as with females due to only one
respondent I cannot make the same comparison. The age ranges were from forty-one to sixty-
seven years of age, ranging from Vietnam service to just prior to the post-Gulf War I (Table 1).
The most relevant observation from interviews are those that leave the military before
their commitment is over, are at higher risks than those who do not. Also alcohol and drug use
before military service and family ties did play a factor in those choosing military life, and in
once instance the individual chose military over becoming a statistic of his friends that all ended
up in prison or dead. Even though two respondents were discharged with an Honorable
discharge it was still before their commitment was over.
Mental health in several respondents does constitute issues that have led to their
periods of homelessness. Alcohol abuse mainly being the main issue, but other mental health
issues included were anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder with schizophrenia. Drug use also for
six respondents post military service, and four during military service also may have played a
part in the situation of becoming homeless also (Table 2).
Social selection for joining the military and during and after military service do make a
difference but also those who choose military service are at risk because of lower family ties,
but mainly due to mental disorders that include alcohol abuse need to focused on.
Other observations of social selection is how the residents of Jackson Street Commons
associate themselves with others of the facilities. The age cohort from the ending of Vietnam to
early 80’s group themselves, older African Americans group themselves and the younger
veterans from first Gulf War to present keep to their rooms. Those who have refrained from
drinking do not associate with the drinkers.
Interpretations and Conclusions
The issues with homeless veterans is very complex and ultimately comes down to
personal choices from what they do as teens and high school, why and what they want from
the military upon enlistment, to their choices and decisions after they leave the military.
Society also plays a role in how veterans and homeless veterans are perceived. When
society supports the military service members during their time in service and after then the
support network is there to keep the veterans from being homeless, but those from
dysfunctional families also play a role for the reasons people join the military (Lutz. 2008).
Blacks and Hispanics seemto have better support along with reasons to join the military
to change their socioeconomic situation. White males seem to be from lower socioeconomic
situations but take their habits with them into the military to just do something with no real
goal (Bachman. 2000)
The government is trying to eliminate veteran homelessness. They have lowered the
number of homeless veterans on the streets, there are still those who are homeless due to
poor decisions, lack of VA assistance due to their service discharge classification or prison
Bachman, Jerald G., Segal, David R., Freedman-Doan, Peter., and O’Malley, Patrick M. (2000).
“Who Chooses Military Service? Correlates of Propensity and Enlistment in the U.S.
Armed Forces”. Military Psychology. 12(1):1-30
Gamache, G., Rosenheck, R., and Tessler, R. 2001. “The Proportion of Veterans among
Homeless Men: A Decade Later”. Social Psychiatric Epidemiol. (36):481-485
Lutz, Amy. (2008). “Who Joins the Military? A Look At Race, Class, and Immigration Status”
Journal of Political and Military Sociology. (36) Winter: 167-188
Metraux, Stephen., Clegg, Limin., Daigh, John D., Culhane, Dennis P., and Kane, Vincent. 2013.
“Risk Factors for Becoming Homeless among Cohort of Veterans Who Served in the Era
of the Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts”. American Journal of Public Health. 103 (Supp 2):
Montgomery, Ann Elizabeth, PhD., Dichter, Melissa E, PhD, MSW., Thomasson, Arwin M. PhD.,
Fu, Xiaoying, MS., Roberts, Christopher B. MPH. (2015). “Demographic Characteristics
Associated with Homelessness and Risk Among Female and Male Veterans Accessing
VHA Outpatient Care”. Women’s Health Issues. (25-1):42-48
Rosenheck, Robert., Frisman, Linda,. and Chung, An-Me. (1994) “The Proportion of Veterans
among Homeless Men”. American Journal of Public Health. (84) March, 3:466-469
Tessler, Richard., Rosenheck, Robert., and Gamache, Gail. (2003). “Homeless Veterans of the
All-Volunteer Force: A Social Selection Perspective”. Armed Forces & Society.
Summer.29 (4): 509-524
Age____________ Sex_____________ Military
Married/Single/Divorce Drafted/Enlisted Discharge
Ethnicity_____________________ Type of
Before you joined the military, were you involved in any behavior that may have been
considered criminal from minor misdemeanors or higher?
Did you graduate high school or get a General Education Diploma?
What was your family life at the time of your enlistment, such as your parents married
Before your enlistment, did you partake in the use of alcohol or illegal drugs?
Why did you join the military?
Were you given the option at the time by a Judge to join the military or serve time in
While serving in the military did, you have problems during service?
Did you partake in the use of illegal drugs while in the military?
What was the alcohol use environment while you were in the military?
What was the reasons for ending your enlistment in the military?
After leaving the military, were you able to find employment?
What was the problems you encountered upon leaving the military?
What was main factor that effected your life to bring you to the position of
homelessness or by the definition of being homeless?
How long would you consider that you were homeless?
Compared to last year how has your life changed to make changes in your life?
Output Created 27-APR-2015 12:09:34
Input Data ClientJ$Senior SeminarVeterans.sav
Active Dataset DataSet1
Split File <none>
N of Rows in Working Data File 8
Syntax CODEBOOK Age [s] Sex [n] Race [n]
Branch [n] Discharge [n]Talcohol [n] Tdrug
[n] Mdrug [n] Palcohol [n] Pdrug [n] Mental
/STATISTICS COUNT PERCENTMEAN
Resources Processor Time 00:00:00.02
Elapsed Time 00:00:00.10
Standard Attributes Position 1
N Valid 8
Central Tendency and
Standard Deviation 9.986
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 2
Valid Values 1 Male 7 87.5%
2 Female 1 12.5%
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 3
Valid Values 1 White 7 87.5%
2 Black 1 12.5%
3 Hispanic 0 0.0%
4 Other 0 0.0%
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 4
Valid Values 1 Air Force 0 0.0%
2 Army 4 50.0%
3 Marine Corps 1 12.5%
4 Navy 2 25.0%
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 5
Valid Values 1 Honorable 4 50.0%
3 Other Than
4 UnHonorable 1 12.5%
5 Bad Conduct
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 6
Valid Values 1 No 1 12.5%
2 Yes 7 87.5%
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 7
Valid Values 1 No 4 50.0%
2 Yes 4 50.0%
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 8
Valid Values 1 No 5 62.5%
2 yes 3 37.5%
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 9
Valid Values 1 No 3 37.5%
2 Yes 5 62.5%
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 10
Valid Values 1 No 2 25.0%
2 Yes 6 75.0%
Value Count Percent
Standard Attributes Position 11
Valid Values 1 Alcohol
2 Drug Dependence 0 0.0%
3 Mental Illness 1 12.5%
4 Multiple Issues 5 62.5%
5 None 2 25.0%
The multiple issues included alcohol dependence, drug dependence and mental illness. The
individuals that reported multiple issues had a combination of two or more of the issues listed.
Mental Health Issues
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Mental Illness 1 12.5 12.5 12.5
Multiple Issues 5 62.5 62.5 75
None 2 25 25 100
Total 8 100 100
FrequencyPercent Valid PercentCumulative Percent
Valid No 5 62.5 62.5 62.5
yes 3 37.5 37.5 100
Total 8 100 100
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Honorable 4 50 50 50
Honorable (Medical) 3 37.5 37.5 87.5
Unhonorable 1 12.5 12.5 100
Total 8 100 100