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Substance Abuse and Employment of Homeless Veterans

by Mary Huber, Ph.D.

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There has been growing interest and need in helping unemployed homeless veterans with substance use disorders (SUD) (Rosenheck & Mares, 2007). Unfortunately, SUD is not the only mental illness veterans struggle with. Other mental health issues include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI) (Rosenheck & Fontana, 2007; Warden, 2006). Clinicians, physicians, and employment specialists need to be cognizant of the combination of the mental health needs of veterans, in particular those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan because of the association between mental illness, homelessness, and unemployment. (Hoge, Auchterlonie, & Miliken, 2006; Rosenheck & Mares, 2007; Warden, 2006). Seal, Bertenthal, Miner, Sen, & Marmar (2007) reported that 25% returning from combat received a mental health diagnosis; 56% had two or more distinct mental health illnesses. Mental health diagnoses were detected soon after the first VA clinic visit, and 60% initial mental health diagnoses were made in health clinics, mostly primary care settings. In summary, Hoge and colleagues (2006) reported that 35% of Iraq war veterans accessed mental health services in the year after returning after returning home.

This briefing paper covers:

  • Current Statistics on Homeless Veterans and the Unique Injuries from the Wars
  • Employment Strategies for Working with Veterans: IPS and MI
  • Case Study Example
  • Supervising and Motivating Staff Working with Veterans who are Dual Diagnosed
  • Resources and Suggustions for Serving Homeless Veterans

To read the entire briefing paper click here.