Trends and Challenges in Rural Homeless Veterans in the United States
Background: Homelessness is a significant public health issue in the United States. Living in rural locations has been associated with an increase in poverty. Additionally, it has been found that veterans are at greater risk for homelessness than the general population. The aim of this research was to characterize rural homeless veterans and non-veterans living in Nebraska, United States.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted comprising 50 veterans and 64 non-veterans recruited from rural locations in Nebraska. Fully structured interviews were conducted by the research staff that consisted of questions regarding participant sociodemographics, housing, clinical characteristics, psychosocial factors, and utilization of health care and social services.
Results: In comparison to non-veterans, rural homeless veterans were found to be older, more qualified, and more likely to have ever been married. Veterans spent fewer nights in a shelter and more nights in a halfway house. Regarding clinical features, veterans were more likely to report posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol misuse. Veterans also reported shorter travel times to reach health care services and used them more often compared to non-veterans.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that homeless veterans and non-veterans within rural settings have unique needs to be addressed when it comes to providing health care and social services, as well as in attempts to eliminating homelessness. Further research will help in the development of improved methods to support rural veterans and non-veterans.
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