Homelessness among us veterans a growing concern
They often lived on the front, the barracks, the war. Many did not recover. In recent years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has come to recognize that homelessness is a problem among Veterans of the Armed Forces across Canada.
Under the pressure of the Veterans Ombudsman, the department has put in place some programs to try to reach these veterans on the streets of Canada’s big cities.
To date, they have been able to locate 250 veterans who lived on the street across Canada, including 50 in Montreal, says Robert Cormier, the Montreal District Director of Veterans Affairs Canada. ” It’s the numbers of people we’ve identified and managed to help,” he says. But this is certainly not representative of the number of homeless veterans on the street in Canada. ” Programs can indeed join the people ” who identify themselves as former veterans who agree to be helped”, he added.
” Some have served overseas in areas such as Afghanistan and Bosnia, others have stayed in Canada and served in the Canadian Forces,” he continues. Of course, there is a good proportion that is actually suffering from post-traumatic shock or depression problems. ”
Veteran Veterans assisted by Veterans are in their mid-30s to mid-50s. ” There are some who have more than 55 years,” says Robert Cormier. Many have mental health problems and try to self-medicate and develop substance abuse problems, he says. ” These are people who have very limited social networks, even broken down, and little family support. ”
Population at risk
In 2011, Susan Ray of the University of Western Ontario conducted a study on the presence of veterans among homeless Canadians. With her team, she met 54 veterans over 50 years old. ” In the military, their lives were very structured,” she says. When they left the military, they did not have the skills to budget, for example. ”
Susan Ray’s sample, which excludes the younger military who experienced the conflicts in Afghanistan or Somalia, for example, included several soldiers who were already drinking problems before and while they were in prison. the army.
In recent years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has set up various mechanisms to identify problems that may be encountered by released soldiers. ” At Jourd’hui, before it is released, the member must meet someone from the Department of Veterans Affairs for a trevue,” says Robert Cormier.
The Department of Veterans Affairs program provides access to psychiatric or psychotherapy services, return to work support and social work support.
If the veteran suffers from a disability-related to his military service, he may have access to a disability pension. When granted at 100%, this pension can reach $ 300,000.
” Most homeless veterans with whom we work have not done the earlier application, and did not ask for services in Ministry”, said Robert Cormier. Some are out of the street, others are still there.
Susan Ray believes that current services are inadequate. There are no statistics on the presence of veterans among the homeless in Canada. In the United States, on the other hand, we know that they represent 26% of the homeless while they make up only 11% of the male population. In countries like Australia or Great Britain, they make up around 3% of homeless people. ” I think the situation in Canada should be similar to Australia and Great Britain,” says Ray. Because, compared to the United States, there are fewer people in the military. ”