A Conversation on Economic Security
Veterans of the United States Armed Forces are perhaps among the nation’s most underutilized assets for implementing sustained change. In the 21st Century, these community assets often reject the status quo of community engagement due to their orientation to mission by any means. The rules of engagement change when threats to American lives persist. A plan must be introduced, implemented, sustained and replicated in pursuit of a “more perfect union.” This conversation invites community stakeholders to lift their voices in defense of America’s future.
Conveners for the National Black Political Convention have invited Original Montford Point Marines, Tuskegee Airmen, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy veterans to join in shaping “The People’s Agenda. Recognizing the hidden value that honorable national service adds to sustainable community plans, The Honorable Johnny Ford, Mayor, Tuskegee, AL and The Honorable Webster Guillory of the National Policy Alliance have called on a few good friends to address historic disparities among historically disadvantaged Americans.
The Honorable Ambassador Theodore Roosevelt Britton, Jr, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary former U.S. Ambassador to Grenada and Barbados, Original Montford Point Marine and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal is providing leadership through his evidence-based veteran response to #BlackLivesMatter.
This interactive public report is being prepared by Youth Achievers USA Institute to help quantify local needs and identify “boots-on-the-ground” assets to combat a “Gulf of Mistrust.” This historic threat adversely impacts Black Lives in America. Conveners of The NBPC have requested public input in the areas of Homelessness, Mental Health, Housing, Jobs, Benefits.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that on any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless, and 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness during the course of a year (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 2006). 97% of those homeless veterans will be male (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008). The National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients reports that veterans account for 23% of all homeless people in America (U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Urban Institute, 1999).
Among the nearly half million homeless veterans, 56% are African-American or Hispanic, just as they are among the homeless population in general. However, there is some evidence that veteran status reduces vulnerability to homelessness among Black Americans. Black non-veterans are 2.9 times more likely to be homeless than white non-veterans. Black veterans, on the other hand, are 1.4 times more likely to be homeless than white veterans (Rosenheck, 1996). The reduced risk of homelessness among Black American veterans is most likely the result of educational and other benefits to which veterans are entitled, and thereby provides indirect evidence of the ability of government assistance to reduce homelessness.
DISCUSSION: Veterans return from honorable national service to American communities where historically unresolved trust issues fester. In some cases a veteran is homeless because he or she does not trust information that is readily available to address the homeless status. Inclusive intergenerational grassroots intervention addresses political barriers that tend to exacerbate this threat to a community’s economic security. Once modeled and diffused, a measurable, evidence-based increase in trust presents the homeless veteran issue as a necessary first step toward “a more perfect union”
HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) Program is a joint effort between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA. HUD allocated nearly 38,000 “Housing Choice” Section 8 vouchers across the country. These vouchers allow Veterans and their families to live in market rate rental units while VA provides case management services. A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord on behalf of the participating Veteran. The Veteran then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. Learn more about the HUD-VASH Program.
The Acquired Property Sales for Homeless Providers Program makes all VA foreclosed properties available for sale to homeless provider organizations-at a 20 to 50 percent discount-to shelter homeless Veterans.
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program provides grants and technical assistance to community-based, nonprofit organizations to help Veterans and their families stay in their homes.
African Americans had greater exposure to war stresses and had more predisposing factors than Whites, which appeared to account for their higher rate of PTSD. After controlling for these factors, the differences in PTSD rates between Whites and African Americans largely disappeared. On the other hand, the difference in rates of PTSD between Hispanics and Whites remained even after controlling for the fact that Hispanics had greater exposure to war stresses.
SUICIDE – Percentage of Suicides by Race/Ethnicity and Veteran Status. African-American Non-Veteran 6.4% Veteran 4.5%
The VHA Strategic Plan for Suicide Prevention is grounded in a public health framework encompassing three major components: surveillance, identification of risk and protective factors, and development of effective prevention interventions. In accordance with the first component of this plan, surveillance, the VA has mandated since 2008 that health system facilities track attempted and completed suicides in a national database, the Suicide Prevention and Application Network (SPAN). Together, SPAN and the Department of Defense’s Suicide Event Reporting system (DoDSER) which utilize the same standardized suicide event nomenclature constitute the nation’s only real-time suicide surveillance systems. SPAN is coordinated and maintained by the Mental Health Program Director, Suicide Prevention and Community Engagement. The SPAN database compiles individual-level case reports for all suicide events and deaths known to VHA providers and Suicide Prevention Coordinators from each VHA medical facility using standard processes and a Suicide Behavior Report developed by national – level management and suicide prevention experts. VA policy requires that Suicide Prevention Coordinators complete a Suicide Behavior Report for all known suicides, suicide attempts, and some serious suicide ideation (i.e. suicide ideation involving a firearm).
Although this was not a research – based analysis and there are significant limitations in the data that are available, as described in the report, this first attempt at a comprehensive review of Veteran suicide does provide us with valuable information for future directions in care and program development. While the numbers of Veterans who die from suicide each day has remained relatively stable over the past 12 years (varying from 18 – 22 per day), the percentage of people who die by suicide in America who are Veterans has decreased slightly. At the same time, the number of Americans who die by suicide each day has increased. This provides preliminary evidence that the programs initiated by VA are improving outcomes. VA must continue to provide a high level of care, and recognize that there is still much more work to do. As long as Veterans die by suicide, we must continue to improve and provide even better services and care. This report provides us with valuable information about opportunities to do even better work.
Center for Minority Veterans
810 Vermont Ave. (00M)
Washington, DC 20420
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