US Veterans Affairs and General Statistics
SOURCE: Military Times
Following the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of veterans in the United States in 2015 was over 18.8 million. These brave men and women are rightfully lauded for the sacrifices they made for their country, as well as the risks they took. Veterans come from all corners of the country, the highest number of living veterans being in California. In 2017, about 266,173 veterans aged between 35 and 54 had an income below the poverty level. Alaska has the highest share of veterans 11.9%. In 2045, it is forecasted that the number of veterans nationwide will be more than 12 million.
The government agency responsible for ensuring veterans are cared for upon their return from war is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. With the number of veterans in the country being so high, it is unsurprising that the financial outlay of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was 159.22 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. That number is projected to increase to 208.18 billion in 2021.
Despite the vast share of resources allocated to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a large number of veterans live under the poverty line. In 2017, about 266,173 veterans aged between 35 and 54 had an income below the poverty level. This phenomenon affects veterans of all ages but it is particularly rife among those aged 65 and older. Many veterans return having entered the military at a young age, and therefore are sometimes without employable skills suited to the domestic economy. This is one barrier the government is trying to help veterans overcome. Interestingly, the average veteran earns more than the average non-veteran in the wider economy. The presence of poverty among veterans therefore warrants closer attention among policy makers as it is clear an economically stable future is possible for veterans. Another potential barrier for veterans returning home and attempting to reintegrate into the workforce and society is the presence of health conditions. This barrier is not only for the veterans themselves but a barrier to a so-called normal life for those who care for veterans. The share of caregivers who live with the care recipient was 80 percent in 2010, compared with 23 percent for the wider population. Although physical disabilities as a result of injuries while at war are more obvious to the public, many veterans suffer from mental illness upon their return. Around two thirds of patients of the Veteran Health Administration were diagnosed with some form of mental health issue requiring treatment.
There are some 6.6 million veterans with some college or associate's degrees. Among the estimated 18.2 million veterans in the US, 1,264,460 are Hispanic or Latino veterans.
GENERAL STATISTICS: Employment, income, poverty
Percentage of male U.S. population (aged 75 years and over) who are veterans’ 47.42 % Number of veterans in the U.S. with some college or associate degree 6,673,056 Number of Hispanic or Latino veterans 1,264,460 Unemployment rate among U.S. veterans (Gulf War II) 4.5% Number of veterans aged 65 and above with an income below the poverty line 487,062 Share of employed veterans who are government workers 21.7% Outlays of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2023 (projected) 229.57bn USD Outlays of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017: $176.05bn USD
The number of homeless veterans across America increased in 2017 for the first time in seven years, when government officials began their nationwide push to help impoverished former service members. The increase reflects estimates from last January (2017), before President Donald Trump took office and any of his new housing policies were put in place. The annual point-in-time count from Housing and Urban Development officials found roughly 40,000 homeless veterans at that time, an increase of nearly 600 individuals from the same mark in 2016.
It’s the first setback for efforts to help homeless veterans since 2010, when then-President Barack Obama made a public pledge to “end veterans’ homelessness.”
The effort was paired with big boosts in funding for community intervention programs at both VA and HUD and saw some immediate results. The estimated number of homeless veterans dropped from more than 74,000 individuals in 2010 to fewer than 40,000 in 2016. But in June, VA Secretary David Shulkin said he no longer saw the previous goal of zero homeless veterans as a realistic target for his department. The state with the largest number of homeless veterans is California, with its 6,000+ homeless veterans. “I think what we learned in this situation is that being able to reach zero is not necessarily the right number,” Shulkin told Military Times. “There is going to be a functional zero, essentially somewhere around 12,000 to 15,000 that despite being offered options for housing and getting them off the street, there are a number of reasons why people may not choose to do that.” The slight increase in veterans’ homelessness matches national trends. HUD officials said that for the first time since 2010, the overall homeless population increased in America, up about 1 percent from 2016 levels to nearly 554,000 homeless people. And, like the national numbers, most of the increases in the veteran’s homeless population came from the West Coast. California and Washington combined saw a rise of nearly 2,500 new homeless veterans. Meanwhile, the southeast part of the country — Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — saw a decrease of almost 800 homeless veterans. Of the 40,000 homeless veterans, almost 25,000 of them are living in temporary facilities. But that leaves more than 15,000 without any reliable shelter; and over 6,000 of those of in the state of California.
The impact of Trump administration policies on those numbers won’t be seen until late next year, when details of the January 2018 HUD point-in-time count are released.
But in recent months, homeless advocates have expressed concerns with VA plans to convert funds dedicated to outreach and assistance efforts to general purpose money, with broader authority for regional directors over how to use it.
In a letter to Shulkin in October, officials from the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans said they objected to “any conversion of special purpose homeless program funding for any purpose,” calling it potentially “catastrophic” to progress made in recent years by siphoning money away from homeless priorities. But VA spokesman, Curt Cashour, said the goal of that move is designed to give local officials more flexibility.
“VA intends to realign funding from a number of programs, including our permanent supportive housing program (grants),” he said. “These programs are currently managed at VA central office in Washington, D.C., and this move gives control and management of resources to local VA facilities.”
“We have heard from many of our facility directors that they know their communities and the veterans they serve better than anyone else, and we agree,” said Shulkin.