Homelessness Among Veterans in Illinois, US

The article focuses on addressing homelessness among veterans in Illinois, as it seeks to find viable solutions and garner support for these brave individuals who have served their nation.

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Homelessness is a significant issue of social concern in the United States. People from across the racial, gender, and age spectrum suffer from homelessness. They spend their lives in corridors and other undignified places. Among the people suffering from homelessness are men and women who put their lives on the line to defend the nation (Byrne et al., 2015). Veterans have had to spend cold nights in verandahs and suffer the pain of cold nights and hot summers. Homelessness among veterans is a growing problem in different areas. Illinois is not spared in this situation that one could describe as shameful. These servicemen whose sacrifice for the nation is not in doubt deserve nothing but the best. Be that as it may, the reality is that some people who have served in the armed forces have no access to secure and appropriate accommodation (Byrne et al., 2015). This is a challenge across all the states and territories, and Illinois is not an exception. The issue of veteran homelessness is prevalent in Illinois and should be resolved through policy and goodwill.

Background Information

Veterans are individuals who have served in the United States disciplined forces, including the army, navy and air force. They are hailed as true patriots who have put their lives on the line in a bid to see a better nation, after and more secure for all its inhabitants. It would be a matter of natural selection that these people lead a decent life after retirement, considering their sacrifices for the nation. They deserve the best care and protection that a nation can offer.
It is estimated that there is a 50% higher chance of a veteran becoming homeless than a civilian (Byrne et al., 2015). This is a clear indicator of the vulnerability of the servicemen. Factors that lead to their homelessness include poverty, a lack of support networks, and being away from home for a long period of time. This exposes the veterans to the dreaded situation of being homeless in their sunset years.


Like any other state in the United States, Illinois is home to homeless ex-soldiers. They roam the streets of Chicago and other urban areas in the state. It is estimated that 736 veterans are homeless in Illinois, a state whose population is 5.8% composed of veterans (The Home Depot Foundation, 2021). The housing problem is prevalent among other people in the United States, and it is not exclusive to veterans. They undergo as many challenges as other people in the country. In January 2020, homelessness among the people of Illinois was estimated to affect about 10,431 people (The Home Depot Foundation, 2021). This means that veterans made about 7.05% of all the homeless people in the state. This is at least 1.25% higher than the veterans' ratio to the state's general population. As such, it is clear that the ex-soldiers are facing a rougher time than other members of the public in the state.
Representation of Illinois Veterans by War; and the Homeless
The problem at hand is the undignified living of the men and women who have defended the country in the past. They deserve better care, more protection, and more profound commitment from the state and the federal government. The service they gave to the nation deserves better recognition, and they should never be allowed to live undignified lives. The time they spent in the trenches fighting in different wars should be rewarded by giving them warm places to live or ensuring they own a place they can call home. Taking the veterans off the streets is the challenge at hand.

Policy Options

The state government of Chicago and the federal government have a role to play in ensuring that the lives of veterans are better. Post-service, there should be mechanisms and strategies to ensure that the servicemen get the best out of life in their later years. The federal government has established measures and approaches in the past that ensure veterans have a place to run to whenever they do not have a home. Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness are encouraged to contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans to seek assistance.
The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) prides itself on a commitment to ensure that the former servicemen are taken care of by all means. In the bid to combat homelessness among the veterans, VA commits to ensuring that it undertakes a coordinated outreach to proactively seek out Veterans in need of assistance. VA also seeks to collaborate with the state agencies like the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) to take care of vulnerable veterans. As would be expected, the agencies working together bring a lot of conflicts. Duplication of responsibilities and competing interests among agency leaders become obstacles barring veterans from accessing good services.
The State of Illinois has the "Illinois Veterans' Homes Project" that has made establishments in places like Quincy, Anna, LaSalle, Chicago, and Manteno (Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, 2017). Veterans can walk into these homes explicitly established to offer them care and residence. Beyond these establishments where veterans can find refuge, the state has developed housing benefit programs for the veterans. The benefits, which have been put down as policies, enable more veterans to own homes affordably. The policy provisions to assist veterans include home loan guaranty, specially adapted housing tax exemption, disabled veterans tax exemption for mobile homes, and returning veterans' homestead exemption (Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, 2017). All these policies are put in place to enable veterans to own a home and reduce the challenge of homelessness among them.

Current and Potential Support and Opposition

The veterans in Illinois deserve homes like in any other jurisdiction in the United States. They require support from across the board to ensure that they live comfortably after serving the nation. In that regard, there is a need for legislative, financial, and community support. The lawmakers in Illinois and Congress must pass legislative pieces that guarantee veterans own homes when they leave service. For a veteran who has served in the armed forces for two years and above, the government should enable them to own a home while still within the service. Veterans' support has primarily been empty talk over the years – more of a perception than a reality. They get eternal promises that are never fulfilled by the people in power. Therefore, there is a need to change tact and ensure that the veterans are served in the best way possible. With support from Congress, the State parliament, the executive led by the president and the state governor, the veterans have a better chance of successfully having their interests taken care of.


There is a burning and urgent need to resolve the stalemate that comes with homelessness among veterans. The following recommendations could help resolve the problem in the long run and ensure no other ex-soldier in the state of Illinois ever lives an undignified life after service.
  1. The top leadership of the state and local governments should be made to commit and coordinate efforts of ending veterans' homelessness (Byrne et al., 2013).
  2. Ensure the implementation of a Housing First system Veterans experiencing homelessness can move into permanent housing where barriers that the veterans experience are eliminated in their bid to get homes (Byrne et al., 2013).
  3. Efficient deployment and full utilization of targeted programs like HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) (Byrne et al., 2013).
It is crucial for the respective authorities and agencies to ensure that the veterans get as much support as there possibly can be. The entrusted bodies cannot let their guard down; instead, they must work hard to serve the interests of those who have served the interests of the nation before. Homelessness is a collective problem of social dynamics and must be resolved in its entirety. Among the basic needs of human beings are food, clothing and shelter. Without shelter, the life of man is incomplete. The state of Illinois has a duty to ensure all veterans are adequately sheltered.

References (APA 6th Ed.)

1. Byrne, T., Montgomery, A., & Dichter, M. (2013). Homelessness among female veterans: A systematic review of the literature. Women & Health, 53(6), 572-596. https://doi.org/10.1080/03630242.2013.817504
2. Byrne, T., Montgomery, A., & Fargo, J. (2015). Unsheltered homelessness among veterans: Correlates and profiles. Community Mental Health Journal, 52(2), 148-157. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-015-9922-0
3. Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. (2017). State of Illinois Benefits for Veterans: Serving Those Who Have Served [PDF] (pp. 1-48). https://www2.illinois.gov/veterans/documents/veterans%20benefits2.pdf.
4. The Home Depot Foundation. (2021). Supporting veterans in Illinois [PDF] (1st ed., pp. 1-2). http://www.veteransdata.info/states/2170000/ILLINOIS.pdf.
In this thought-provoking response, the author's perspective is skillfully backed by an extensive body of comprehensive research and readily available information, offering a well-informed and compelling exploration of the subject matter.

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August 02, 2023

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