” Military veterans account for one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 per cent of the general adult population, according to a report out this week. The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education non-profit organisation, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

“We’re going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous,” said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

“When the Vietnam War ended, that was part of the problem. The war was over, it was off TV, nobody wanted to hear about it,” said John Keaveney, a Vietnam veteran and a founder of New Directions in Los Angeles, which provides substance abuse help, job training and shelter to veterans.

“I think they’ll be forgotten,” Keaveney said of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

“People get tired of it. It’s not glitzy that these are young, honourable, patriotic Americans. They’ll just be veterans, and that happens after every war.”

“Step by step, heart to heart, one by one, we alll falll dooowwwnn … like a veteran soldier..” – Melvin