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There are around 40,000 homeless veterans in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and more than 19,000 of them live in California. The state has seen a 17 percent rise in homeless vets since 2016.

Veterans experience high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. It is estimated that 87% of veterans have been exposed to traumatic events. In a 2017 study involving 5,826 United States veterans, almost 13% were diagnosed with PTSD. 

Veterans experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffer from changes in cognition and mood, flashbacks, anxiety and intrusive thoughts. These symptoms can make daily tasks seem impossible, and it can be difficult for PTSD sufferers to maintain employment leading to housing insecurity.

Veterans dealing with trauma are more likely to suffer from substance abuse disorders. 

Studies show PTSD and substance use problems are strongly related in people who served in the military. Without treatment, substance use disorders can cause other health problems—both physical and emotional. 

Consequently, veterans dealing with trauma may have more difficulty reconnecting with their friends and family, leaving them without reliable support systems. 

The skills learned through military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce.   

For veterans, especially those who served in the Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the struggle to find stable employment is further complicated by limited exchangeable skills and no civilian job experience.

When homeless veterans are diagnosed with a terminal illness, they often find themselves alone, in pain and without access to hospice care. Joshua’s House offers an alternative – quality hospice care along with comfort care, clothing, shelter, and meals. It also offers options to address and deal with some of the issues mentioned above through art and music therapy, writing as healing and a comprehensive End of Life Doula program. We have learned that many veterans were never acknowledged for their service, the risks they took and the sacrifices they made. Randall (Randy) Kanouse, a Joshua’s House Board member, will be developing and delivering small ceremonies with residents at Joshua’s House who are veterans, to honor their service and to thank them.