Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 109-119

First online:

Comparison of Homeless Veterans with Other Homeless Men in a Large Clinical Outreach Program

  • Richard TesslerAffiliated withUniversity of Massachusetts
  • , Robert RosenheckAffiliated withNortheast Program Evaluation CenterYale University School of Medicine
  • , Gail GamacheAffiliated withMental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center

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This paper compares homeless veterans with homeless nonveterans from different eras in an effort to better understand the connection between military service and urban homelessness. Two research questions are addressed based on interviews with over 4,000 homeless men who enrolled in a national outreach program for persons suffering from serious mental illness: First, is there anything unique in the social and personal characteristics of homeless veterans in the 1990s that would help to explain their relatively high prevalence in the homeless population, especially among those who were 19 or younger when the draft ended in 1973? Second, aside from age, are the homeless veterans of the era of the All-Volunteer Force different from homeless veterans who served during the era of the military draft? The results replicate many findings from research in the 1980s showing that even homeless veterans with psychiatric disorders tend to have more personal resources compared to homeless men who did not serve in the Armed Forces. Although veterans from the era of the All-Volunteer Force are different from veterans from the era of the draft, the introduction of the All-Volunteer Force per se does not appear to have changed the composition of the adult male homeless population.

homelessness veterans mental illness