According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, over 40,000 U.S. veterans are estimated to be homeless on any given night. Similarly, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans suggests that 11 percent of all homeless U.S. adults are veterans, a number which rises to 20 percent when looking specifically at male homelessness.
An additional 1.4 million veterans in the U.S. are considered at risk of homelessness. This, says the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, is largely due to a combination of poverty, insufficient affordable housing, and a lack of adequate and available support networks. Of homeless veterans, the organization further reveals that over 50 percent suffer from physical disabilities, with a similar number also struggling with serious mental health issues.
“Homelessness is a plague which sadly affects many thousands of dedicated veterans in the United States, entirely through no fault of their own,” explains Edwin Dixon Epperson III, himself a combat veteran from the Tampa Bay area.
He continues, “Returning from war, these heroes of the highest order, who have offered their lives up to protect and serve their country, find themselves thrust back into suddenly unfamiliar circumstances. Reintegrating into society, and picking up the lives they left behind, can be a difficult and daunting task.”
“The life they find themselves back in,” he adds, “is often vastly different from the one of discipline and camaraderie of which they were a part during their military service, as they dutifully answered life’s higher calling of servitude.”
Homelessness among veterans, says Edwin Epperson, is often due to a complex range of factors. While many of these factors also influence wider homelessness, such as an extreme shortage of affordable housing, circumstances are quite often significantly more complicated for veterans.
“A large number of homeless veterans, and those at risk of homelessness,” Edwin Epperson explains, “also live with the lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a common trigger for substance abuse.”
“Furthermore, military occupations and training do not always translate well directly into the civilian workforce,” he suggests. The effect of this, he adds, is that veterans often find themselves at a disadvantage when looking for gainful employment outside of the military.
The number one priority for homeless veterans, says Edwin Epperson, is often clean, safe, and long-term housing within a supportive environment which is free of alcohol and drugs. After more than 13 years in the United States Military, it’s an issue understandably close to his heart.
As a result, through his company Vertical Fund Management, Greater Tampa Bay Area-based Edwin Dixon Epperson III is seeking to assist homeless veterans through strategic partnerships with other local, veteran-owned businesses and organizations. “We’re looking to address issues surrounding affordable housing and employment, first and foremost, while simultaneously taking into account the other challenges which regularly face our veterans, each of whom has sacrificed so much for us as a nation,” he reveals.
“Addressing the need for affordable housing, providing valuable skills training, and creating employment opportunities in the local Tampa Bay area are all tasks worthy of the endeavor,” Edwin Epperson adds, wrapping up.
To find out more about how you or your business can get involved with supporting homeless veterans in the Greater Tampa Bay Area, Edwin D. Epperson III can be reached directly via email at email@example.com.