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Rzeczpospolita, Poland

Homelessness in the US: The Price of War?

By amk

Translated By Aleksandra J. Chlon

23 February 2013

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Poland - Rzeczpospolita - Original Article (Polish)

After the last 11 years, during which the American Army fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, the country stands before another battle: homelessness.

Being on the front means, above all, extreme conditions, stress, permanent fear and a feeling of threat and, as a consequence, physical and psychological wounds. Such is the reality of many war veterans.

A common trauma for war veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder. It is an anxiety disorder caused by an intense experience, usually a delayed reaction to extremely difficult situations for the individual. Symptoms include insomnia, strong anxiety reactions, recurring memories, nightmares, isolating oneself from other people, sometimes strong emotional reactions and aggression. Many of these reactions are typical of normal stress, but in the case of PTSD they are significantly more lasting and more intense. It is estimated that 20 percent of veterans suffer from PTSD.

This disorder may seriously disrupt normal functioning, from relations with family members and friends to difficulties in retaining a job. Veterans, often left with a feeling of helplessness, cope with it by abusing alcohol or drugs. That, in turn, is a straight road to homelessness.

Already in 2009, a survey in USA Today showed that 16 percent of war veterans lose their homes, and that they have a 50 percent higher chance of being threatened by the risk of homelessness than people who have not fought in a war.

The problem especially touches African Americans and Latin Americans. Even though they make up 28 percent of the population, they comprise 56 percent of homeless people in the entire United States.

Though homelessness is a social illness that does not only affect war veterans, it is them that it touches more and more often. Such factors as the support of family, governmental and social organizations and organized guidance can help in returning to normal life.



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