The Alliance Party Plan for Homeless Veterans
As of January 2019 the number of homeless veterans in America on any given night had dropped by around 50 percent since the same time in 2010, from just under 80,000 to fewer than 40,000 -- great news, by any standard. But due to the transitional nature of homelessness, the number may be much higher: the Veterans Administration provides health care to approximately 150,000 homeless veterans annually through its specialized homelessness programs.
And the best estimates indicate half of homeless veterans are age 51 or older, compared to 19 percent of the general homeless population. The greatest number of homeless veterans, both male and female, are from the Vietnam era; more Vietnam-era veterans have found themselves homeless at some point than the number of Americans killed in that war. What's more, research indicates older homeless individuals are far more likely to stay homeless without direct intervention and assistance than younger people.
Given the facts at hand, the Alliance Party believes, despite all the progress, we as a nation can still do much more to address this vitally important issue. And we think direct, vigorous action is called for.
To that end, we believe the Veterans Administration should be authorized in the next round of appropriations to open two closed military bases to serve as housing facilities for homeless vets. In our proposal, these former bases would have medical, dental, and mental health care facilities, healthful food, private sleeping rooms and job training, as well as jobs on base for those veterans who are able to work on arrival.
Providing vocational training and further educational opportunities is central to our proposal. Since the majority of jobs in the military do not exist in the private sector, skills training is essential if homeless veterans are to return to the national workforce.
These re-purposed bases will also offer a safe environment for veterans with substance abuse problems and mental health issues, allowing them -- many, for the first time -- to effectively address their challenges. It is our hope to see the days when veterans are condemned to sleep in a park or in a box under a bridge while they try to overcome PTSD or addiction are a thing of the past.
The Alliance Party is the ONLY political party to offer such a plan for our homeless veterans.
Our veterans have served our country with dedication, honor, professionalism and pride. We sent these soldiers, sailors and airmen around the world to preserve our freedom, and they did their duty -- often at hazard to their very lives. To forsake them after their enlistment is concluded is to neglect our duty, and our debt, to them.
Congress bears special responsibility for the way our country has turned its back on our neediest veterans. While many members of Congress claim the government doesn't have the resources to support the Alliance Party plan, they seem to have no trouble finding adequate funding for a great many programs which, in our view, are nowhere near as important as properly caring for those who have given so much to our country. It's long past time for our elected representatives to right by our veterans, just as our veterans did right by us.