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Veterans’ new war is a bad economy

Steve Henn Feb 20, 2009
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Veterans’ new war is a bad economy

Steve Henn Feb 20, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Homeless veterans are the subject of a meeting today at the Veteran’s Administration in Washington, D.C. The agency says 1 in 3 three men living on the street served in the U.S. military. The crumbling economy and the wave of returning vets could make that statistic even worse. Here’s Marketplace’s Steve Henn.


Steve Henn: After a tour in the Navy in the early 90’s, Kris Bertrand returned home to Minnesota.

Kris Bertrand: You know, it was like I had been gone only four years, but it felt like I had been gone 20.

Bertrand had trouble landing a job and ended up living on the street. Fifteen years ago, there weren’t many programs for vets like her. But a social worker found one and got her in.

Bertrand: The program basically saved me life.

Today, Bertrand works in Veterans Affairs in Indiana. She says services for homeless vets are much better than they used to be. But recently, her office has seen an increase in calls for help.

Vanessa Williamson: Foreclosures, losing their homes, losing their apartments.

Vanessa Williamson at the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Association says many coming back from combat have transition issues.

Williamson: And then you combine that with the stagnating economy, the, you know, dramatic loss of jobs. I think you are going to see a real flood into the homeless programs.

Congress created 10,000 new housing vouchers for low-income vets last year. But officials at the VA say they may need more when the program is running at full speed.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

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