Veterans Face Hunger and Poverty
This Sunday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. The holiday is an opportunity to recognize armed service veterans, and the day is also a reminder that many vets live in poverty.
Today in the Los Angeles Times, reporter Alexandra Zavis writes about L.A. County's growing population of veterans living below the poverty line, and how service agencies are working to assist them. Zavis cites an Economic Roundtable study that found that the "number of post-9/11 veterans living below the federal poverty line in L.A. County increased sharply during the recession, from about 4% in 2008 to nearly 12% in 2010." And that's just in Los Angeles.
In March, the Center for American Progress' "Veteran Poverty by the Numbers" report found that, nationwide, veterans are disproportionately homeless, have trouble finding work, and are reliant on social safety net programs to keep them from falling deeper into poverty.
The piece called for protection of "the safety net from cuts to programs such as veteran housing and employment services, SNAP/food stamps, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. These programs and other services help struggling veterans and nonveterans alike get back on their feet."
In June, the Huffington Post ran a piece examining the increasing number of enlisted military members and veterans relying on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) dollars, and what cuts to that program would mean for military families. HuffPo's analysis of data provided by the Defense Commissary Agency concluded that military commissary customers redeemed $101 million worth of food stamps between June 2011 and June 2012.
The Odyssey Networks' powerful "Faces of Poverty" series has also addressed the issue of veteran hunger and poverty. The above video tells the story of an Iraq war vet who faces unemployment after returning to his hometown of Reading, Pa., and applies for food stamps in order to feed his family. "I started crying, because I've never been in that situation," he says of applying for benefits for the first time. "It's tough, coming from where we were at."
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