Homeless veterans find help in community of tiny homes

The 10 months Richard Butler spent in Vietnam were the scariest of his life. For solace, he turned to drugs.

Richard Butler smiling.

Richard Butler

“That was the only way I could see myself making it through. And if I didn’t make it through, I was planning to be too numb to realize it,” says Butler, 64, who served in the Marine Corps from 1971-1974.

Addicted, things got worse when he returned home. “I made a lot of bad life choices and I had a lot of friends who were in the streets doing nonproductive stuff,” he says.

Butler wound up robbing banks and spending “quite a bit of time” in prison. He also entered drug rehab three different times. Eventually, he found himself homeless.

However, Butler isn’t alone.

Homeless veterans by the numbers

• 181,500 veterans are in state and federal prisons and local jails
• 40,000 veterans are homeless, a 40 percent decrease since 2012
• 11 percent of homeless adults are veterans
• 20 percent of the male homeless population are veterans
• 51 percent of single homeless veterans have disabilities
• 50 percent suffer from serious mental illness
• 70 percent are dealing with substance abuse

 

Sources: Veterans Bureau of Justice, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and National Coalition for Homeless

Most homeless veterans are loners, male and single and suffer from mental illness and/or alcohol and drug abuse. Thankfully, organizations such as Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin in Racine are creating solutions to end homelessness among veterans.

Veteran village

Jeff Gustin, co-founder of Veterans Outreach, is part of the solution.

Read the full story at FordBetterWorld.org.