At-Risk Veterans in North Carolina
North Carolina is home to over 800,000 veterans and has the greatest number of active duty troops on the East Coast. In FY 2014, some 9,859 unique individual veterans from the state contacted or were referred to the VA as homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. It is estimated that 20% of all homeless individuals in North Carolina are Veterans, and recent unemployment figures indicate that unemployment among Veterans age 18-26 is significantly higher than that of their non-veteran peers. In addition, there are approximately 22 Veteran suicides each day in the U.S., which projects to one every day in North Carolina.
In spite of a significant military presence, and the number of Veterans in distress, North Carolina has relatively few resources available to Veterans who struggle with making the transition from military life and/or combat, and a glaring lack of coordinated reintegration resources. For homeless Veterans, receiving help and finding shelter is extremely difficult due to the shortage of treatment beds in North Carolina. VA records indicate fewer than 1000 transitional/ treatment beds statewide, including only one operational transitional housing facility in North Carolina dedicated to Veterans, which is located in Asheville.
Yet, the number of veterans in distress is on the rise, as shown in the chart below.
What makes these figures even more disturbing is that the statistics from VA only show the number of homeless veterans who made contact with the VA. However, many homeless Veterans never make it that far. VLC-CARES research indicates that VA-reported figures are low – by as much as 100%. The Department recently reported that fewer than 50% of returning Veterans have even registered with the VA – highlighting challenges in the VA’s outreach strategies or resources. Generally high unemployment rates and ongoing pressure on federal, state and local budgets will only compound the problem as additional Veterans return home from combat. In addition, the planned reductions in force, which are already underway, will result in increased numbers of troops released from service without jobs to go to.
At VLCNC-CARES, our goal is successful community reintegration for every North Carolina Veteran, but the path to that goal is different for each one of them. We are the only statewide Veterans organization designed to provide the specialized services, counseling, training and mentoring to return our suffering heroes to self-reliance.
We cannot do it alone. We need your support!
Please consider helping our homeless North Carolina Veterans with a donation today!