Homes 4 Heroes
Soldiers On The Streets Of The UK Is Not Acceptable
It’s extremely hard to imagine someone who served our country in the military living on the streets.Unfortunately, for many veterans, homelessness is a sad reality.
PTSD if left untreated can easily lead to homelessness, alcohol and substance abuse, crime, prison and suicide.
These increased rates of PTSD among veterans may play a role in explaining why they are overrepresented in the UK homeless population. Living as a homeless veteran is hard enough. Add in the struggles of PTSD, and it takes the situation to a whole different level.
PTSD can affect anyone who’s experienced a traumatic incident even if they’re not in the military. However, because traumatic situations can be commonplace in war zones, it affects military members disproportionately.
PTSD triggers a person’s “flight-or-flight” response in a situation that doesn’t necessarily require it. To be officially diagnosed with PTSD, a veteran will experience the following symptoms for at least one month: avoidance, re-experiencing (flashbacks), cognitions, mood swings (guilt, blame), arousal and reactivity symptoms (outbursts, sleep difficulties, startling easily).
Why Veterans with PTSD Become Homeless
Research found that two-thirds of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD, which is significantly higher than homeless veterans who served in previous wars.
Many of these veterans with PTSD did not receive adequate treatment to help them deal with the traumatic events they witnessed in the military. Consequently, they struggle to maintain jobs and have difficulty finding things in common with their friends and families.
When veterans are discharged from the military, many of them struggle to fit back in with civilian life. Research shows veterans’ lack of support and social isolation contributes to homelessness among veterans with PTSD.
A Profile of Homeless Veterans
PTSD is associated with homelessness among veterans, for a number of reasons. Often a soldier returns home suffering with PTSD, they do not seek treatment because of social taboos, which The PTSD Project and other organisations are trying to break down.
The veteran may damage relationships and fail to settle into ‘Civvy Street’, fall into gambling, excessive alcohol or drug use, or to crime and or disorder which leads eventually to prison. The statistics for people released with no fixed address from UK Prisons would shock most people.
What’s Being Done to Help Homeless Veterans?
Many people assume the Army or government departments are taking care of veterans when they leave the military. This is sadly not the case, although things are changing. Not quickly enough though for some of the guys we are supporting.
When a veteran also experiences PTSD and other issues, whether it’s substance abuse or additional mental illnesses, they don’t always seek out the aid they need, nor is there enough aid to meet demand.
That’s why there are community-based organisations such as The PTSD Project, that aim to meet the needs of homeless veterans. We do what we can to work in collaboration with governmental agencies, veteran service organisations, and other homeless aid groups.