Who is a Veteran? What kind of life does he have?
Veterans have varied life stories. They come from different walks of life. They may share common experiences, but their personal journeys are full and colorful.
What kind of struggles do some Veterans experience? Does he lie in bed at night thinking of the same problems I am thinking? Does he miss being on Active Duty?What kinds of nightmares wake him up at night?
These were the questions in my head. So, I did a quick search on the web: Life after the Military.
I clicked on one the search results which sparked my interest, “‘A war within myself’: One veteran’s struggle for life after combat”. It was one of the feature articles in USA TODAY.
I began reading it.
Right immediately, I was filled with so much emotion when I went through the opening paragraph.
It was a statement from Sgt. Brandon Ketchum, a Combat Veteran. I cannot describe how my stomach churned and how my heart was ripped into pieces reading it:
“The rest of the morning was spent picking up body parts, still warm, in perfect condition, like they had just fallen off the owner. My Marines were crying and I yelled at them, calling them demeaning names and to man up. This day caused so many feelings & emotions in me that I wrote my dad about the event and how much it was tearing me apart. We never talked about it, but one year later, he died and I found it in a safe under his bed. Nothing else was in the safe. He took it to the grave. I felt so guilty and ashamed that I told him. I thought that I caused the stress that led to his fatal heart attack.”
If you want to read the rest of the article, click here.
Ketchum, who was once part of one of the world’s best Military forces, was seeing a physiatrist at the Department of Veterans Affairs at the time he was interviewed by USA TODAY. He was a heroin user. He is one of the many Combat Veterans who suffered great post-traumatic stress.
This was Ketchum’s struggle. It was the war that he needed to fight within himself.
This story isn’t a rare case. Many veterans today suffer from these kinds of problems. Men and women who once served our nation, now in a constant battle for self-control.
Veteran Homelessness, a National Concern
According to recent statistics, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that there are about 39,471 homeless veterans.
Substance abuse, according to VA, is one of the leading causes of Veteran homelessness.
Some veterans have to live their civilian lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which could last a lifetime if not addressed properly. This may potentially lead to substance abuse especially when they have a weak support system from family and friends.
The HUD-VASH Program
To address the homelessness issue among Veterans, Veterans Affairs (VA) has collaborated with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to come up with the VA Supportive Housing or HUD-VASH program. It is one of the various housing assistance programs for veterans.
The said program combines VA supportive services with HUD housing vouchers. The aim is to provide adequate and effective assistance to Veterans and their families who are facing homelessness that they may find a permanent and sustainable housing.
To learn more about this program you may visit the VA website. You may also talk VA’s help desk through 1-877-424-3838.
VA-approved lenders can also assist you in finding affordable ways to finance a home or refinance an existing mortgage. Don’t hesitate to phone them to learn more about the many VA programs design to help you in homeownership.
The VA partners with state and local institutions, both private and public, to end veteran homelessness community by community — providing adequate and affordable housing opportunities, forging strong social support and providing easier access to essential health care.
Veterans, like Brandon, who are going through a lot need not fight the battle alone. The Veterans Affairs, its partners and many in the community are willing to stand alongside them in their fight. Together, we can will the battle.