Veterans' benefits: a top priority for Pennsylvania homeless vets

Pennsylvania ranks fourth in states with the highest veteran populations. It's been estimated that in just one of The Keystone State's 67 counties there may be between 20,000 to 30,000 veterans. As many more vets are discharged from our armed forces, those numbers are expected to grow and sadly enough, the numbers of homeless vets is also expected to grow. For those vets who have found themselves homeless, getting set-up with their veterans' benefits as quickly as possible will be a top priority.

Based on trends seen across The United States, a significant portion of returning vets will find themselves homeless after being discharged. The figures released to Congress in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are both alarming and tragic. The report stated that there were more than 62,000 homeless vets on one single night in January of last year.

A volunteer worker for a veterans' advocacy group recently found one veteran and his family living in a Monroe County cemetery. Thankfully, the group was able to find them housing across the river in New Jersey. Other veterans and their families, however, may not be as lucky.

The cause for a veteran's homelessness could be from a job loss resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder, a physical disability, or other circumstances that may prevent them from finding employment after being discharged. Whatever the case may be, the length of time between filing for veterans' benefits and actually receiving them can be a crucial factor in a vet's ability to obtain housing and other vital needs. For many of the vets in Pennsylvania and in other states across our country where the benefits processing time can be painfully long, teaming up with those who are well-versed and experienced in the filing process can make a significant difference in how long it takes for those well-deserved benefits to appear.

Source: Pocono Record, "'We owe it to them': Veterans advocates open branch at Stroudsburg homeless center," Andrew Scott, Aug. 1, 2013