Give homeless more than a bed

Veterans Day drew attention to the sad fact that 130,000 or more American veterans will go to sleep tonight in a doorway, under a bridge or, if fortunate, in a home for the homeless in some community.
No one really knows how many homeless veterans there are. The Veterans Administration guesses but doesn’t keep track. However, the VA has developed the largest homelessness program in the nation and estimates that it reaches at least 100,000 of those in need. Volunteer organizations especially for veterans also exist in cities, along with assistance provided by the Salvation Army and other non-governmental organizations to anyone in need.
Some veterans find themselves without a home due to psychological and/or physical damage done in war. The largest number, however, are victims of substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
While the VA should continue, and perhaps expand, its homelessness program, Congress should address homelessness comprehensively as well. A non-veteran without a place to lay his or her head at night is equally in need of help and it may be more efficient to address the matter as one problem rather than create categories and deal with each separately.
The object should be to provide food and shelter for those unable to cope on their own and rehabilitation for the great majority who can be helped to self-sufficiency. While creating effective rehab centers would be initially expensive, doing so would pay huge dividends for society at large and, certainly for the rehabilitated individuals, over the long haul.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.