• Rural Veterans: Pathways to Homelessness

      Jorden, Brenda J.; Belcher, John R.; DeForge, Bruce R. (2018)
      Veterans are overrepresented in homeless populations compared to non-veterans (Gamache, Rosenheck, & Tessler, 2001; Perl, 2015). Most homeless individuals live in urban centers and as a result most research studies have focused on urban homelessness leaving the rural homeless less studied and understood (Knopf-Amelung, 2013). The purpose of the current qualitative study was to explore the pathways to homelessness for a sample of rural homeless veterans. Fifteen veterans and 16 staff/administrators were interviewed to determine the causes of homelessness for veterans living in a rural area. A limited grounded theory approach was used to develop themes identified as causing homelessness. The primary pathway according to both groups was chronic substance abuse. Mental health and economic problems, and adverse childhood events were also major factors in veterans experiencing homelessness. Social support appeared to delay the onset of homelessness for some individuals. Not all veterans qualify for VA services, which leaves a segment of the population without access to VA services. Overcoming barriers to substance abuse and mental health services for rural homeless veterans is an area to focus research efforts. Creative ways to provide outreach to the hidden homeless are needed.