In The News
Report: 22 percent reduction in vet homelessness in county
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A reduction in veteran homelessness is among the key findings in the first progress report on veterans' issues, concerns and recommendations.
The report, released by the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance (TVCA), built upon the 2014 report by the Easter Seals Tristate, covers veterans' housing, education and employment opportunities to better track the last two years of progress made in the community, a press release said.
In the last two years in Hamilton County, veterans experiencing homelessness has decreased 22 percent from 913 in 2013 to 713 in 2015, the report said.
The 6 percent of veterans who are considered chronically homeless in the Tristate – meaning an individual is homeless for a year or more, or an individual who has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years – is significantly lower than the national average of 24 percent, the report said.
Representative Republican Brad Wenstrup (Ohio's 2nd District) said in the introduction of the report that the safety and security Americans feel at night is due to the one percent of the U.S. that has served in the military.
Often, when veterans come back, Wenstrup said in the report, they are met with a "thank you for your service" that often rings hollow.
"More is required, for much has been required of them," he said. "Asking them where they served, who they served with, and what their plans are now shows a more genuine interest."
The TVCA is helping with that last question, Wenstrup said.
"Providing effective and efficient health and wellness services for veterans is also beginning to move in a positive direction, after many years of less than satisfactory progress," Wenstrup said.
According to the report, there are 145,870 veterans living in the 16-county service area in the Tristate, representing 8.8 percent of the total population of 1.6 million.
Most veterans are males, 75 years and over, and from the Vietnam era, with most from Hamilton County (50,048) and Butler County (24,477), according to the data.
Here are some key findings of the report, according to the release:
While there are 4,637 unemployed veterans in the region, the overall unemployment rate for veterans is below that of non-veterans – an improvement since the last report. There are indications that underemployment is a growing concern.
Significant progress has been made in reducing veteran homelessness, with Hamilton County seeing a 22 percent decline in the past two years. Only 6 percent of homeless veterans are considered chronically homeless – substantially lower than the national average of 24 percent.
Veterans are more likely than non-veterans to have a high school diploma and some college but are significantly less likely to have attained a bachelor degree or higher. Data suggests that less than 50 percent of veterans have used their GI Bill benefits for a college education and, of those, nearly one-third are using them at for-profit institutions.
There is a need to expand the services network into the six counties adjacent to Hamilton County, where more than 55 percent of the region’s veterans reside.
“Community leaders across the country are focused on attracting veterans to their regions and want to help ensure a successful transition to civilian life,” Leonard Randolph, Jr., M.D., chairman of the board of directors of TVCA, said in a press release.
To do so, Randolph said corporate and civic leadership throughout Greater Cincinnati must understand the "unique challenges facing veterans and employ strategies to overcome these obstacles."
"TVCA will work closely with these partners to collaborative and communicate these important issues facing our veteran population," Randolph said.
Other recommendations in the report, according to the release, include:
Greater collaboration among non-profit service organizations, employers, educators and government providers is needed.
Implementing a comprehensive marketing and communications plan to heighten veteran’s awareness of available services, focusing on veterans within 12 months of separation.
Developing a collaborative transition “accelerator” to successfully transition veterans to contributing community members as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
Standardize data capture and sharing across the veteran services network in the community, similar to the approach of the homeless continuum of care and other successful efforts.
Foster further collaboration among philanthropic groups to target investments toward partnerships and data-driven interventions.
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