Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Homelessness a threat for Iraq vets

Herold Noel had nowhere to call home after returning from military service in Iraq. He slept in his Jeep, taking care to find a parking space where he wouldn't get a ticket.

"Then the nightmares would start," says the 26-year-old former Army private first class, who drove a fuel truck in Iraq. "I saw a baby decapitated when it was run over by a truck — I relived that every night."

Across America on any given evening, hundreds of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan like Noel are homeless, according to government estimates.

The reasons for their plight are many. For some, residual stress from daily insurgent attacks and roadside bombs makes it tough to adjust to civilian life; some can't navigate government assistance programs; others simply can't afford a house or apartment.

They are living on the edge in towns and cities big and small, from Washington state to California and Florida. Some of the hardest hit are in New York City, where housing costs "can be very tough," says Peter Dougherty, head of the federal government's Homeless Veterans Program. Studio apartments routinely exceed $1,000 a month — no small sum for veterans trying to land on their feet.

FULL STORY

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