Veteran homelessness is a devastating problem across the nation. It is a complex issue that can be exceptionally difficult to tackle as many instances of veteran homelessness are informed by a myriad of other factors, from the continued effects of trauma experienced in the line of duty to challenges transitioning back into civilian life and culture. Moreover, pervasive mental health disorders stemming from military experiences and the use of drugs or alcohol can further complicate this journey for veterans. This means that addressing veteran homelessness also requires addressing the effects of mental health disorders and addiction among veterans.

The Reality of Veteran Homelessness

Veterans are often thought of as heroes to their communities and country, and rightfully so. However, many veterans still experience a plethora of challenges in their transition out of military life, and many attempt to navigate such a transition without a feeling of support or understanding regarding the challenges they face. One of these most difficult challenges is homelessness, with those who have fought so hard to protect their country finding themselves without a place of their own to call home. 

A 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development discovered that there were over 40,000 homeless veterans across the country. To put this in perspective, military veterans make up an estimated 11%  of the entire homeless population in the United States. Thus, supporting veterans in their transition to civilian life is paramount to both preventing veteran homelessness and supporting those who need it in their recovery and healing. 

Hawaii's Role in Creating Effective Veteran Programs
Hawaii’s Role in Creating Effective Veteran Programs

Hawaii is a unique place, filled with its own culture and spirit that cannot be emulated anywhere else. For more information on our Hawaii substance abuse treatment centers, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member today, call us at (866) 390-5070.

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Addiction and Mental Health Disorders Among Veterans

Both addiction and mental health disorders like anxiety, trauma, PTSD, depression, survivor’s guilt, and much more are common among veterans, making an already difficult transition to civilian life even more challenging. However, these factors also inform how some veterans may find themselves homeless.

For many veterans, the use of drugs or alcohol is common, both on base and in civilian life. Unprocessed traumas or a lack of developed skills to identify, acknowledge, and navigate anxiety, depression, and more can have profound effects on daily life, with many veterans looking to “numb” these challenges by any means necessary. Drugs and alcohol, both in civilian life and through heavy on-base drinking cultures, are the most common methods of placating the mind from traumatic experiences despite their destructive nature. 

Multiple deployments can further compound these challenges, demanding professional attention to navigate before challenges with addiction or mental health disorders can impact veteran homelessness.

Addiction’s Role in Veteran Homelessness

Addiction is a powerful and destructive disease. Not only can it compromise a veteran’s mental and physical health following their time in service, but it can also introduce emotional and financial instability that can inform homelessness. While some veterans may begin to use rent money for addictive substances as addiction continues to develop, other veterans may find that their use of drugs or alcohol can make it difficult to keep a job or maintain consistent employment, further impacting their financial situation. 

Trauma Among Veterans

Traumatic experiences can also make it difficult for many veterans to connect with others or assimilate into civilian communities, leading to feelings of isolation or lack of a structured support system for addressing mental health needs or addiction. Symptoms of PTSD, like flashbacks, panic, guilt, depression, and much more, can further emotional challenges and make it more complicated to tend to personal responsibilities or professional obligations, further impacting daily life and informing veteran homelessness.

Coupled with injuries and physical traumas incurred in the line of duty, many veterans may find it difficult to find gainful employment, with accessibility complications making transitioning to a fulfilling civilian life complicated. 

Does Trauma Among Veterans Always Lead To Addiction?
Does Trauma Among Veterans Always Lead To Addiction?

Trauma among veterans is exceptionally common. However, it is always possible to take control of how you address and cope with trauma, and Hawaii Island Recovery is available to explore how you can overcome the effects of trauma and PTSD without the use of drugs or alcohol. For more information on how we can help you, call (866) 390-5070.

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Finding Treatment for Veterans

Getting effective treatment for veterans following their time in service is necessary. Not only can professional, trauma-informed, and dedicated veteran treatment programs like those at Hawaii Island Recovery address the unique needs and challenges of veterans, but committing to this kind of treatment when transitioning back to civilian life can empower veterans to better address addiction, mental health disorders, trauma, and more and prevent them from further impacting their risk of homelessness. 

Dedicated treatment programs can also help veterans connect to veteran peers who understand the challenges of this transition, providing a genuine community of support to challenge isolation, depression, and feelings of hopelessness that can inform veteran homelessness. Likewise, having strategies to challenge the use of drugs or alcohol and explore life skills can all help during this transition as veterans explore their options and translate their military skills into their civilian professional lives. Hawaii Island Recovery also works closely with the VA to ensure that each veteran has access to the necessary support systems and programs to prevent veteran homelessness and facilitate a healthy transition to civilian life after service. 

Homelessness is devastating, yet veterans who are homeless must confront the role that addiction, trauma, and mental health disorders play in perpetuating it. However, healing is always possible through our Hawaii rehabilitation, and understanding these challenges is the first step to destigmatizing the needs of veterans and supporting them during their transition. 

Addiction, trauma, and homelessness are all incredibly challenging to navigate, and it can be difficult to know where to start. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we are prepared to meet you where you are on your journey to create the most personalized approach to our Hawaii rehabilitation, working closely with you to develop a plan that addresses your unique needs, goals, and situation. Confronting homelessness is difficult, and addressing addiction, trauma, mental health needs, and more proactively can help prevent this outcome. For more information on how we can personalize your stay with us or for information on how to support veteran loved ones or community members to address veteran homelessness, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.