Growing up, my family which consisted of my mom, dad, sister and my dog, would drive to Colorado to visit my grandparents on my mom’s side. My grandparents live in a bigger Colorado city, namely Boulder. I remember being 5 or 6 and walking down the downtown Pearl Street Mall area and seeing all the men digging and eating out of garbage cans. Sensing my curiosity, my mom told me that many of the homeless men in the area were veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, causing businesses to be more reluctant to hire them. Ever since I became aware of the situation of the homeless in America, I’ve believed it to be important to be aware of their situations and make others aware of the situation.
Sensing my curiosity, my mom told me that many of the homeless men in the area were veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, causing businesses to be more reluctant to hire them. Ever since I became aware of the situation of the homeless in America, I’ve believed it to be important to be aware of their situations and make others aware of the situation.
Even though there isn’t a completely accurate tally, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs calculates that almost 40,000 veterans are homeless. The intimidating factor that contributes to homelessness in the veteran population is PTSD.
Living life as a homeless person is a challenge by itself. Put in the pains of PTSD brings the matter to a whole different level. Although it’s common in people who have served in the military, PTSD can impact any person who experienced a severe traumatic situation. Because traumatic situations are incredibly common in war zones, military members are affected disproportionately.
PTSD can cause extremely assertive behavior, and extremely aggressive behavior people suffering from it. It takes one month to be certain a person is suffering from PTSD. They would show signs of avoidance symptoms, re-experiencing symptoms, cognition and mood symptoms, and arousal and reactivity symptoms.
Avoidance symptoms come from the veteran trying to avoid places, people or object that reminds them of an extremely traumatic experience. Re-experiencing symptoms are fairly self-explanatory. They’re flashbacks that have physical symptoms such as sweating, elevated heart rate, nightmares, and frightening thoughts.
PTSD can cause a person to feel in danger even if there is nothing nearby that could harm them. Cognition and mood symptoms mean the person will have negative emotions and a worsened mood. Arousal and reactivity symptoms are often constant and often include being easily startled, feeling tense, sleeping problems, and anger issues.
It is estimated that it’s somewhere between 11-20% of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom are currently dealing with PTSD. On top of that, an estimated 12% of veterans in the Gulf War and an estimated 30% of the Vietnam War veterans all suffer from PTSD.
A lot of the veterans who suffer from PTSD haven’t received the proper treatment they needed after witnessing a traumatic event that put them in that position. Because of this, it becomes more of a task to keep jobs and enjoy time with friends and family. After leaving the military, many veterans have a fairly difficult time trying to readjust back to ordinary citizen life. Veterans lack of help and their social isolation adds to it, worsening their PTSD.
Working hard to be aware of social issues is an important decision. The more people who know, the more people who will work towards a change in the homeless community of those who served our country.
Header photo courtesy of Flickr.