Sacramento, CA, August 6, 2020 – The California Association of Veteran Service Agencies (CAVSA) has issued its annual report outlining the challenges facing the California veteran community and ongoing priorities.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to deliver this 2019 State of the Veteran Community Report to our statewide community,” said Stephen Peck, CAVSA Board President and U.S. VETS President and CEO. “This report strives to celebrate and honor the successes of those who work tirelessly to serve our military veterans, while also highlighting the unmet needs and identifying the challenges ahead.”
Among the concerning trends included in the report:
- 10,836 of all California veterans are homeless and 67% are unsheltered (7,214)
- Members of the National Guard and Reserve are experiencing increasing suicide rates, but have limited access to behavioral health specialists
- A lack of data on opioid deaths among California veterans creates challenges in addressing the growing problem of opioid addiction
- According to a recent Rand Study, 64% of Post-9/11 veteran care recipients had a behavioral health condition
California continues to lead the nation as home to more veterans than any other state
– about 8% of all U.S. veterans live here. California’s estimated 1,578,509 veteran community is more than 4 times the average number of veterans living anyplace else in the U.S.
This community is supported by a diverse group of dedicated caregivers spread across California’s 58 counties who work tirelessly to address the unique challenges that men and women who have served in our military face on a daily basis. These challenges include issues such as poor physical and mental health, drug abuse, suicide, homelessness, barriers to employment, and unfair treatment in the court system.
“CAVSA continues to believe that by working together, with the unparalleled support of public officials and stakeholders, Californians have the unique opportunity to compassionately and competently address the mental health and welfare needs of our veterans and all Californians,” said Peck.
Wildfire Season creates New Threats for Veterans
Veterans who live in communities hit hardest by wildfires in recent years often get lost in efforts to rehouse those who lost everything. Many end up staying in the areas following wildfires.
“Though some veterans could go elsewhere, they choose to stay because the cost of living is lower, and grunt jobs have actually increased because of all the debris and hazardous waste removal that is required. Some are deciding to just permanently camp, fish and hunt, not only for food, but to decompress in nature, “notes Brad Long, Executive Director of the Veterans Housing Development Corporation.
This has created a desperate need for veteran housing in multiple communities. CAVSA’s advocacy team worked tirelessly with their partners to successfully move forward with three Veterans Villages to house more than 250 veterans and veterans’ families. (insert hyperlink to section on villages)
The 2019 CAVSA Annual Report identifies the following priorities moving forward into 2020:
- Address housing challenges for veterans
- Expand suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention activities
- Expand advocacy capacity and data collection efforts
- Engage with California Judicial Council on shared interest areas
- Build community and agency partnerships
A full copy of the annual report which includes additional information, facts, and data highlights, can be accessed here: CAVSA 2019 Annual Report.