Veteran homelessness in Southwest Pennsylvania is among the lowest in the nation, according to a new assessment by the Center for a New American Security and funded by the Heinz Endowments.
As many as 37,400 post-9/11 veterans live in the area, making up about 15 percent of the former servicemen and women in the region overall. And while many are doing well, the report found many are also struggling with issues such as access to benefits and education.
“We actually have about 180 non-profit organizations that say they’re working on behalf of veterans in the region, and if you’re a vet, it can be immensely difficult to try to navigate that very complicated environment,” said Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, who met with U.S. Veterans Administration Secretary Robert A. McDonald on his trip to Pittsburgh this week.
Veterans who served before or after 9/11 “differ dramatically in how they feel about veterans benefits and their own well-being,” according to the report. While younger vets were found to be much more likely to use their VA benefits, local servicemen and women use their GI Bill benefits at a lower rate that the national average and nearly one-third reported some unemployment during the preceding year.