Pittsburgh Vets Share Stories Of Homelessness Through Their Own Lens

Nov 8, 2015

A portion of the work done by veterans for the Veterans Day photo exhibit running Monday-Wednesday at the VA Pittsburgh hospital.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

You've seen them — homeless veterans living in large cardboard boxes or shabby tents under a bridges and underpasses. But the clearest image might come from the narratives of and photos taken by the homeless vets themselves.

To raise awareness about homelessness among veterans, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System is hosting a three day event Monday through Wednesday, Veterans Day, at its facility on University Drive in Oakland. The event pairs patient narratives with photos, which the veterans snapped as part of a research study devoted to personalizing  the struggles of homelessness.

“The researchers gave veterans point and shoot cameras and had them go out into their living environment,” said Sheila Tunney, public affairs specialist at VA Pittsburgh.

According to the U.S. Veterans Administration, military veterans comprise about 12 percent of homeless adults nationwide. That includes an estimated 180 homeless vets living in metropolitan Pittsburgh.

But the issue of homelessness extends beyond a lack of a permanent shelter.

“When you think about homelessness, you don’t necessarily think, 'Is this guy getting health care?' or 'Is this woman getting health care?' Sometimes (homelessness) is a big barrier to getting health care,” Tunney said.