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Homeless Aging Veterans in Transition: A Life-Span Perspective

DOI: 10.1155/2013/570407

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The need for counseling and career/educational services for homeless veterans has captured political and economic venues for more than 25 years. Veterans are three times more likely to become homeless than the general population if veterans live in poverty or are minority veterans. This mixed methods study emphasized a life-span perspective approach for exploring factors influencing normative aging and life-quality of 39 homeless veterans in Alabama and Florida. Seven descriptive quantitative and qualitative research questions framed the investigation. Study participants completed a quantitative survey reflecting their preferences and needs with a subset of the sample ( ) also participating in individual qualitative interview sessions. Thirty-two service providers and stakeholders completed quantitative surveys. Empirical and qualitative data with appropriate triangulation procedures provided interpretive information relative to a life-span development perspective. Study findings provide evidence of the need for future research efforts to address strategies that focus on the health and economic challenges of veterans before they are threatened with the possibility of homelessness. Implications of the study findings provide important information associated with the premise that human development occurs throughout life with specific characteristics influencing the individual’s passage. Implications for aging/homelessness research are grounded in late-life transitioning and human development intervention considerations. 1. Introduction The special population of homeless veterans has become an alarming concern within America’s aging population challenges. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans [1], while only 7% of the US population is comprised of veterans, approximately 13% of the adult homeless populations are veterans. Recent national survey efforts conducted by the Veterans’ Administration and related government agencies report that 8.6% of homeless veterans are over the age of 62 with aging female homeless veteran populations increasing each year [2]. Veterans are three times more likely to become homeless than the general population if they live in poverty or are minority veterans in poverty. “Low income veterans are twice as likely to become homeless than the general population of low-income adults” [1, paragraph 2]. Almost half of homeless veterans in the United States are over the age of 51 and are comprised primarily of veterans representing the Baby Boomers and are veterans of the Vietnam War years [3]. This mixed methods

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