The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that more than 57,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in the United States.
But as the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans says on its website, "flawless counts are impossible to come by." The director of Kalamazoo County's Veterans Service Office James Tucker says an accurate county in Kalamazoo County is also very difficult. He says homeless veterans could include someone who stays with friends of relatives for nights or weeks at a time. But Tucker says veterans can also be found at homeless shelters and sleeping in parks.
The causes of homelessness for veterans can include substance abuse and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Tucker says that can make it difficult to hold down a job or get employment in the first place. He says companies may be reluctant to hire a veteran if they worry about PTSD or the time that someone may have to be away in the reserve. Tucker himself is a veteran, and is still in the army reserve.
Tucker says there are services available for homeless veterans, including Silver Star Homes and programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Department. Tucker says he hopes more affordable housing can be created for veterans .
Making people aware of the services available is one of Tucker's major goals. He's been on the job since March, 2013. Veteran Affairs Specialist Aaron Edlefson, like Tucker is a military veteran. Tucker says he urges veterans not to be intimidated. "We get paid by the county government... to make sure that these veterans are successful, that they can succeed, and they can get everything that they rightfully deserve."