If you are struggling as a veteran, there is hope. Veterans are some of the biggest heroes of our nation, and many organizations have risen to help support and care for veterans so they can get the services they need to thrive. The key is to find those organizations and take advantage of the services they provide.
This guide is intended to help veterans who are struggling get the help they deserve. From help with homelessness to something as simple as a partner animal to help alleviate emotional trauma, these organizations, groups and services will support today’s vets so they can enjoy a full, thriving and healthy civilian life. Your local VA office is one critical place to look and from which to start, but there are lots of other options that are also available and that can give you further support wherever you need it most.
The Veterans Housing Problem
When a service member goes to war for our country, he or she expects to come home and enjoy a normal life after serving. However, for a large number of veterans, life becomes challenging to the point where many struggle to afford quality housing upon their return to civilian life. On any given night, around 76,000 veterans are sleeping on American streets without a home to return to according to Green Doors. With only 8 percent of the population claiming veteran status, a sobering 17 percent of the homeless population is made up of veterans. In fact, veterans are 50 percent more likely to become homeless than other Americans.
Why is this? According to Green Doors, the biggest risk factors for homelessness are lack of support and social isolation after turning to civilian life. Other causes include poverty and overcrowding in the housing that is available.
Thankfully, there are resources out there to help veterans overcome homelessness or avoid it if they are at risk. Through the efforts of these organizations, the number of homeless veterans is declining, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Still, for those veterans who are struggling with housing, declining numbers do not matter much. If you are a veteran who is at risk for losing your home, here are some steps to take:
- Talk to your lender. Before assuming that you will lose your home, talk to your lender. Lenders spend quite a bit when a home goes into foreclosure, and they may be willing to work with you.
- Ask about loan modification. Loan modification allows the lender to change the loan’s terms to reduce your monthly payment. It often extends the number of years that you have to repay the loan in order to make the monthly payment fit within your current budget.
- Ask about loan forbearance. Loan forbearance is an option wherein your mortgage provider temporarily suspends or reduces your monthly mortgage payment. If you’re dealing with a temporary shortfall and can get back on your feet with a little help, this is an option to consider.
- Be open with your landlord. If you are renting, talk to your landlord about your situation. Sometimes, simply having a conversation can help protect your housing situation.
- Call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans. Call 1-877-4AID-VET for guidance to avoid homelessness.
If you are already homeless, here’s what to do:
- Consider transitional housing. Some organizations, like Operation Home Front, offer temporary transitional housing to help veterans get back on their feet. This housing is rent-free to qualified veterans and requires the veterans to undergo financial and occupational counseling to help them find work and be able to afford traditional housing options.
- Find a community-based organization for homeless veterans. Nearly every state and territory in the United States has at least one of these organizations.
- Get financial counseling and career help to get back on your feet. Organizations like VeteransPlus and American Consumer Credit Counseling offer counseling and outreach programs that can help veterans get a job and learn to manage their money more effectively, and avoid falling back into the homelessness trap after getting help.
Here are some specific organizations that offer help and support to veterans who are homeless or struggling to pay for their homes: