Homeless vets' death risk tops civilians'

Nov. 11, 2011 at 8:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Homeless veterans report an average of nearly six years homelessness and are more likely than civilian homeless to die on the streets, a U.S. survey indicates.

The survey by trained volunteers of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement of communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 homeless Americans by July of 2013, surveyed more than 23,000 homeless Americans in 47 communities nationwide.

They found veterans tend to be homeless longer than non-veterans -- nearly six years homeless, compared to four years among non-veterans.

"Among the 62 percent of homeless veterans who reported two or more years of homelessness, more than 61 percent reported a serious physical health condition, 55 percent reported a mental health condition, 76 percent reported a substance abuse habit and 32 percent reported all three," the report said. "As a group, veterans were 11 percentage points more likely to suffer from at least one condition linked to increased risk of death among the homeless population, which means the men and women who risked their lives defending America may be far more likely to die on its streets."

The survey found:

-- 20.8 percent had received ER or inpatient care more than three times in the last year.

-- 21.3 percent were age 60 or older.

-- 9.4 percent reported multiple instances of frostbite.

-- 9.2 percent reported liver disease.

-- 4.4 percent reported kidney disease.

-- 27 percent of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans reported traumatic brain injury, compared to 19 percent of other veterans.

-- 46 percent of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans reported some form of mental health treatment.

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