From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to alcoholism, the transition to civilian life is difficult for many soldiers and addictions and mental health concerns can add to the downward spiral. Earlier this summer, Global News’ 16×9 took a haunting in-depth look at the state of homeless veterans and the reasons they’ve been left behind by the system.
“In the forces, you always had someone watching your back, all the a sudden you have nobody,” said Lorne Lorenzen, a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veteran, who has been homeless for more than 30 years to Global News.
The show aptly captures the stores of several veterans who have been homeless for decades, the reasons behind that and the people who are trying to help. including VETS Canada. Following the creed “the men and women who protected our home would not be without one,” VETS Canada patrols the streets to identify homeless veterans and get them the help needed.
Last year, a federal government report concluded that close to 2,000 veterans could be in shelters. However, organizations on the ground helping veterans, such as VETS Canada, estimate that the figure of homeless veterans is more likely upwards of 10,000.
The transition from being a CAF member to a homeless veteran is a slow spiral that can take up to a decade and is a result of many factors from alcoholism to difficulty transferring skills to a civilian job, according to Cheryl Forchuk, assistant director of Lawson Health Research Institute, and one off the first to research veterans homelessness.
The mini-documentary also looks into various housing options for homeless veterans like Madison Place, a housing facility specifically designed for veterans.
“One of the things that we really found is that we can’t use the same kind of programming as we use for other poeple. There people want to congregate, they want to reconnect with their military culture, and they can’t do that in a homeless shelter,” said Forchuk in 16×9.
Fifteen veterans live at Madison Place and gave a chance to be reconnected with others while being looked after. There are only four programs such as Madison Place across the country.