According to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of homeless veterans in Ohio dropped by 13 percent last year.
The decrease is even higher in the Columbus area, where the number of homeless veterans declined by 28 percent, according to the 2018 PIT Estimate of Veteran Homelessness in the U.S.
Suzette Heller of the American Legion Department of Ohio says non-profit organizations that work with veterans are partially responsible for the drop.
“Maybe it’s for mental health, maybe it’s for food. It’s having all areas of what touches somebody’s life,” Heller says. “Having some sort of resource available at that time.”
Heller says the country's continued involvement in in war for nearly three decades has increased public awareness of veterans' needs.
“Whereas a soldier may have served one term on a deployment, obviously they’re impacted by that one term,” Heller says. “But today, we see veterans who deploy upwards [of] four-to-six times.”
Commander Robert E. Bob Schmitt of the American Legion Department of Ohio says the public feels more responsible to help combat the ramifications of military service.
“I think our society to some degree feels appalled that we have veterans who serve our country who are sitting on the streets asking for money and stuff like that,” Schmitt says. “They shouldn’t be there.”
According to HUD, there are 1,691 veterans in Franklin County's Continuum Of Care Program.
Nationwide, the rate of veteran homelessness decreased by 5.4 percent.