Does the VA Cover Mental Health?

Veterans often struggle with mental health disorders upon return from the service. Services can be provided to veterans, like therapy, medication, or a mental health treatment facility to better mental health and find recovery from mental health disorders. 

There are many mental health resources available to veterans. However, determining what services are covered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be challenging. The VA provides mental health care through its care services. In addition, veterans can receive mental health care from providers in partnership with the VA.

Veterans and Mental Health

According to recent census reports, there are currently 18 million veterans along with 2.1 million active-duty and reserve members in the U.S. Serving and working in the military comes with various stressors that can negatively impact a person’s mental health. Data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) indicate about 1 in 4 active duty military members show symptoms of a mental health problem.  

NAMI indicates the three most common mental health conditions in military members are: 

From fighting in combat situations to making decisions that cause moral injury, exposure to conditions that are uncommon to civilians puts military members in a unique position regarding mental health. When veterans return to civilian life, getting the support they need can be challenging.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Traumatic events, like a violent assault or military combat, can overwhelm a person’s positive coping skills. In many cases, veterans will walk away from military service with PTSD. Numbers taken from the  U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs indicate that: 

  • About 20% of veterans who served in Enduring Freedom have PTSD.
  • Approximately 12% of veterans from the Gulf War have been diagnosed with  PTSD.
  • Roughly 30% of Vietnam vets have struggled through PTSD sometime in their lifetime. 
  • Currently, 15% of Vietnam veterans still have PTSD. 

PTSD can occur in anyone who experiences trauma. However, veterans and other individuals in the military experience PTSD at higher rates than the general population.


The rate of depression in military members is five times that of the civilian population. More than sadness, depression is an overpowering and dangerous condition, especially for veterans. Sadly, each day roughly 18 to 22 veterans commit suicide

Military members may find it hard to identify their depression. They may mask their depression with anger or irritability. Or they may try to self-medicate, leading to a substance use disorder.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A significant blow to the head can result in a traumatic brain injury, also known as a TBI. A TBI may occur while in combat. However, TBI may also happen during training. The symptoms of TBI are headaches, memory problems, fatigue, or sudden and significant mood changes. 

Because the symptoms of TBI can appear like other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder or dementia, individuals need to obtain a thorough assessment from a trained professional. 

Addiction in the Military

The military environment celebrates camaraderie and team-building but also fosters substance use disorders. For example, approximately 1 in 13 veterans have had alcohol and illegal drug problems. 

Other numbers also indicate that substance abuse is prevalent among military members: 

  • About 25% of veterans have had issues with illegal drug use. 
  • Roughly 4 out of 5 veterans have had problems with alcohol. 
  • Approximately 21% of veterans addicted to opioids have experienced an overdose. 
  • The rate of heavy alcohol use is higher among veterans (7.5%) than among civilians (6.5%). 

Data indicates that veterans with a substance abuse disorder were 3 to 4 times more likely to have depression or PTSD. The stress and trauma of being in the military can be overwhelming, thus leading to addiction and problems with mental health. Receiving mental health treatment can improve all military members’ quality of life. 

Barriers to VA Mental Health Care

Military members may find the stigma of mental illness a barrier to seeking mental health care. For example, surveys from the Rand corporation found that 28.6% of army veterans did not seek treatment due to embarrassment. The same group of army veterans also did not want to be seen as weak (48.9%). The belief that seeking treatment for mental illness is weak can keep military members who need treatment from getting help. 

Mental Health Services for Veterans

One of the benefits of being in the military is its healthcare. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) covers mental health services to treat the abovementioned conditions. The VA also covers a broad range of mental health services for outpatient and inpatient VA mental health settings and participating mental health care facilities. 

Although VA centers strive to help all military members, the available services at the VA may surpass the needs. To expand mental health treatment for veterans, the VA covers VA mental health care at participating centers. 

For example, only 30 percent of veterans enrolled in VA health obtain their care from the VA. The other 70 percent receive care from providers outside the VA. Choosing treatment from a non-VA provider does not compromise care. In fact, it is a common practice amongst military members. 

Quality of Care

When veterans get mental health care from the VA or a private setting, the quality is the same. Private settings enable military members to access high-quality care using VA benefits. For example, the VA Veterans Choice Program lets eligible veterans obtain mental health care from community-based non-VA providers. Military members can receive the same or better quality care in private settings. 

When choosing a non-VA provider, it’s essential to find professionals knowledgeable about military life. These mental health professionals should be familiar with the specific concerns of being a veteran. Treatment by professionals who understand the expectations of the military enables veterans to speak freely and receive quality mental health care. 

Mental Health Treatment for Veterans in San Diego, CA

The VA provides healthcare to veterans that can include mental health benefits. After the service, veterans can often be diagnosed with mental health disorders. To receive the best chance of long-term recovery, veterans can receive treatment for mental health, including therapy and medication as needed.

Solara Mental Health in San Diego, California, offers veteran mental health services. Contact us today if you or a veteran you love are struggling with mental health. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our veteran mental health treatment program

TRICARE vs. TriWest Insurance

What is TRICARE?

TRICARE is a health care initiative by the U.S Department of Defense Military Health Care System. It benefits uniformed service members, retirees, and their families through comprehensive coverage for all beneficiaries. Military and veteran communities can take advantage of some health benefits offered through TRICARE.

These include:

  • Special programs
  • Prescriptions
  • Health plans
  • Dental plans

According to the Affordable Care Act, most TRICARE health plans meet the eligibility criteria for minimum essential coverage. Patients will not require the IRS Form 1095-B to file tax returns.

However, patients will still need to update their information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). They should include the Social Security Numbers (SSN) for all beneficiaries. The DFAS will use this information to inform the IRS about their respective coverages.

Patients must visit an ID card office and carry all necessary documentation to add a family member’s SSN to DEERS. Federal laws and public law govern TRICARE benefits and policies. Reforms in the TRICARE programs occur as soon as federal regulations and/or public law are amended.

Clinic and military hospital policies and guidelines may vary from those outlined in this document. The Defense Health Agency governs TRICARE under the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) leadership.

The program aims to enhance national security and the Department of Defense by providing health support for military operations. While also sustaining the health of those under military care.

Emergency Mental Health Care

A patient may experience a mental health emergency if they are at immediate risk of causing harm to others. Or if they risk harming themselves due to their mental condition. The patient should also seek emergency care if they require immediate, continuous skilled monitoring at an acute level of care.

When a patient has a mental health emergency, they should:

  • Go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
  • Not require pre-authorization
  • Contact their regional contractor in 24 hours or the following business day if admitted.
  • Report admissions within 72 hours.

Non-Emergency Mental Health Care

Healthcare consumers do not need pre-authorization or a referral for substance use disorder (SUD) or outpatient mental health care. It includes counseling and therapy. Choosing a provider within a different network may subject patients to higher costs.

Patients should get a referral for health care services for care from a provider, not a military clinic or hospital. The idea is not to discourage the patient from getting help. Instead, they want to ensure that the condition does not negatively affect their ability to perform their duties and overall health.

Note: An active duty service member (ADSM) looking for care through the TRICARE network should seek pre-authorization and get a referral. However, they do not need pre-authorization or a referral if they visit a military clinic or hospital.

Learn More About TriWest

TriWest is a part of the VA’s Community Care Network (CCN), which offers veterans health care services through community providers. The CCN enables veterans to receive care directly in their communities by covering health care services outside of VA providers. 

The VA partners with third-party insurance to cover communities across the United States. In the Western regions of the United States, TriWest is the third-party administrator for veterans. Healthcare providers can contract with the VA through TriWest to cover various health services to veterans – this includes coverage for mental health. 

Traditionally, veterans receive care through the VA network of medical facilities. However, there are instances when the VA outsources to community providers. Meaning that veterans can receive the care they need in their own community. This is especially helpful for veterans who do not live near VA health centers or need specialized care. 

Veterans can receive mental health care through TriWest by obtaining a referral from the VA. The VA refers veterans to specific community providers, veterans can then schedule their own appointments with the community provider.

Regions Covered by TriWest

TriWest insurance coverage is only available in select states. If a veteran is residing in a state outside of the TriWest region, they may check with the VA to determine their appropriate CCN provider. 

The TriWest region states include:

  • Wyoming
  • Washington
  • Utah
  • Texas
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Nebraska
  • Montana
  • Missouri
  • Minnesota
  • Kansas
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Hawaii
  • Colorado
  • California
  • Alaska
  • Arizona

Differences Between TRICARE & TriWest for Mental Health

TRICARE mental health is a program for all seven uniformed services. These include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Health Service, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Army. 

Eligible people include, but are not limited to:

  • Medal of Honor (MOH) recipients and their kin.
  • Uniformed service retirees, unmarried children, and their spouses.
  • Unmarried children and spouses of active duty service members.
  • Active duty service members.

TriWest only provides coverage to veterans living in the western region of the United States. Veterans who receive TriCare benefits also need to be enrolled in the VA healthcare system. The veterans who receive coverage from TriCare also need a referral for mental health services. However, they do not need referrals for emergency care services.

TRICARE and TriWest Benefit Comparison

Regarding TRICARE, health services may differ depending on patients’ health plans and are subject to specific costs and rules. According to TriWest, patients’ copayment and eligibility depend on their income, service connection, or discharge.

TRICARE benefits for outpatient services include:

  • Pediatric services
  • Behavioral and mental health
  • Surgical or medical care
  • Obstetric and maternity services
  • Home health care
  • Glasses and eye exams
  • Emergency care in civilian and military facilities
  • Ancillary services
  • Ambulance services

VA outpatient services benefits include:

  • Transportation services
  • Surgical, as a result of trauma
  • Substance abuse
  • Behavioral and mental health
  • Obstetric and maternity services
  • Home health care
  • Eye exams
  • Chiropractic care
  • Bereavement counseling
  • Ancillary services like laboratory, x-ray

The lists are not exhaustive but more can be found with elaborate provisions for inpatient services, preventive services, prescriptions, supplies, and dental care are available.

TRICARE or TriWest Insurance for Mental Health Treatment

TRICARE Health Insurance is a United States Defense Health Agency (DHA) program that serves military personnel. The government also provides Triwest healthcare alliances for the Western Region of the United States. These care programs can benefit patients and their loved ones, especially if they fit the eligibility criteria. Review the provisions under each insurance to ensure to gain maximum benefits, especially when it comes to mental health services. 

Community providers partner with TRICARE and TriWest to provide people with mental health services. For some members of the military or veterans, outside help can support these populations more effectively than care from the VA.

At Solara Mental Health, we have proven experience treating members of the military and veterans. We provide our patients with specialized treatment that addresses their needs. Our team of professionals is committed to ensuring that all our patients receive the care they need. We can also help navigate any questions about TRICARE and TriWest.

Reach out to Solara Mental Health for all your mental health information needs.

Can Non-Combat Veterans Have PTSD?

Some groups have a common misconception about who can or cannot have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is commonly believed to be exclusively suffered by people who have served in combat. However, while military veterans often have PTSD, non-combat servicemembers and the general population can suffer from PTSD.

The reality is that there are people who have never served a day in the military who are victims of PTSD as well. Some people who have served in the military and have not been in combat struggle with PTSD.

What is Considered Non-Combat PTSD?

Some who serve in the military but who haven’t necessarily been in direct combat may still have PTSD. There are several reasons why someone in the service may suffer these conditions, including the following:

  • Sexual Assault – Sadly, sexual assaults are somewhat common in the military. Many people within the service ranks have this crime committed against them, and the last result that can take hold after the assault itself can often manifest as PTSD. This type of suffering can remain with a person long after they have left the service, and it doesn’t need to be directly connected to combat.
  • Death of a Fellow Servicemember – Members of our armed forces form tight bonds when they enter the service. This is done both as a coping mechanism for what they are all going through together and also because it is a way to help keep units bonded together.
  • Accidents – Military members can face accidents when they are serving. Situations may occur on base that causes physical, emotional, and even psychological damage to the members. This may manifest as PTSD in some people.

This shows that there are many ways for someone to develop symptoms of PTSD even if they have not been in direct combat, which is essential for all people to remember.

Can Non-Combat Veterans Have PTSD?

Non-combat veterans can experience PTSD just like combat veterans can. Although combat veterans may be at a higher risk because they are directly exposed to traumatic events daily during their job, this is not to say that non-combat veterans don’t also face some hurdles. They certainly do, and it is worth taking care of all veterans, no matter their combat status.

Signs of Non-Combat PTSD

The symptoms of PTSD can show up in many different ways, and it is reasonable to say that PTSD symptoms for those with non-combat PTSD are often the same or similar to those that one may have when they have PTSD as a result of direct combat. In either case, the specific symptoms that manifest in the victim may differ from person to person.


One of the most common and yet most terrifying symptoms of PTSD in many sufferers is flashbacks. This is when the sufferer recalls the event or events that caused them to have PTSD issues in the first place.

They do not ask to have these flashbacks, but it can be highly devastating for them to feel as though they are right back in the middle of what ultimately caused them an extreme amount of stress in the first place. In extreme cases, flashbacks can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days.


Another symptom that many PTSD sufferers report is feelings of anxiety. They admit that they are almost constantly on edge, and this may lead to additional health issues on top of everything else. Not only do they have to worry about dealing with the anxiety directly by itself, but they may also experience high blood pressure, weight gain, and other adverse side effects as they go along. Thus, it is always best to try to have the PTSD symptoms addressed as soon as possible.

Survivor’s Guilt

Ask anyone who has been in a traumatic situation where others did not survive about how they feel regarding survivor’s guilt, and they are likely to have many responses for you on this question. They will be able to point directly to the feelings they experience regarding having pulled through something others did not. They may express a sense of survivor’s guilt somewhat akin to depression.

After all, they feel they are not worthy of having survived something others did not. Sadly, this can sometimes lead to feelings of worthlessness, extreme guilt, depression, and worse. It is a compounding effect of PTSD that causes prolonged suffering.

Veterans PTSD Treatment Programs

The Department of Veterans Affairs stands up for veterans suffering from PTSD and offers them help with getting the assistance they require. Not only does the department itself have professionals on staff who can help those with PTSD, but they can also direct people toward the programs they need to get some help with their PTSD situation. They will gladly point people in the right direction regarding treatment programs.

These programs may include the following services:

  • One-on-one mental health assessment
  • Medication
  • Group therapy
  • One-on-one psychotherapy and family therapy

The treatments that the person living with PTSD responds to the best are available to them to help make sure they receive the assistance that they need.

PTSD Treatment for Non-Combat & Combat Veterans

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that results from trauma. Although the military is often diagnosed with this disorder, non-combat servicemembers and the general population can also struggle with this disorder. To treat PTSD, different kinds of therapy and medication can be utilized as needed. The best thing that we can do to help our veterans is to support them and show them that we care.

If you or a veteran you love has PTSD, reach out to Solara Mental Health today. The sooner we can begin to work with the person living with PTSD, the sooner we can help them find the solutions they need to make a difference in their lives. Contact us today to learn more about our veteran mental health program and how we can help.

LGBT Veterans – What You Need to Know

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), one million veterans identify as part of the LGBT community. Members of the LGBT community face more situations that lead to depression and anxiety. They may also have a higher instance of drug or alcohol abuse.

The treatment for mental health issues or drug and alcohol abuse should consider their military service. And at the same time should consider their sexual orientation or gender preferences. Both groups have technical concerns; when combined, the entire person needs to be treated.

LGBT veterans served their country, and we owe them a debt that can never be repaid. A veteran who identifies as a homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender should receive treatment that accepts their sexual orientation and gender identity.

How Many LGBT Veterans Are There?

The VA believes there are around one million LGBT veterans, but this number could be more extensive. Members of the LGBT faced discrimination and bullying in the military. For many years, they weren’t allowed to admit to their sexual or gender identity preferences and remain in the military.

LGBT veterans served during many war and peacetime periods, and these include:

  • World War II
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
  • Grenada
  • Panama
  • Lebanon
  • Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom

In many cases, LGBT veterans faced a much more difficult time during their years in the military. They may display post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) more often than their straight, cisgender fellow veterans. It’s also been reported that they’re more likely to face drug and alcohol abuse issues.

It’s also important to note that these veterans already faced higher instances of bullying and mental health issues while in school. The LGBTQ community faces higher percentages of mental health issues and suicidal ideations. Their status as a veteran can exacerbate these issues. This is because of the treatment they received during their time in the military and the things they witnessed during conflicts.

Gender & Sexuality Differences in Veterans

Veterans have a variety of sexual preferences and gender identity preferences. This is true despite the military branches’ long history of not accepting members of the LGBT community or denying them altogether. Some men and women identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. However, they may prefer to have sexual relationships with members of the opposite sex.

For many years, lesbian, bisexual, and gay men and women weren’t allowed in the military or able to communicate their sexual preferences under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. It was not until 2011 when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, and LGBT people could serve openly.

Some people, including veterans, don’t feel like their gender is the one they were assigned at birth. These veterans may struggle to become the person they want, including taking hormones and enduring medical procedures.

Common Issues with LGBT Veterans

LGBT veterans struggle with many of the same issues as their cisgender heterosexual counterparts. This is mainly because of the discrimination and bullying they experienced in the service.

Some of the most common issues an LGBT veteran deals with include:

  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • PTSD
  • Homelessness
  • Problems stemming from sexual assaults

These issues may occur in some straight veterans. However, when a person looks at the percentage of LGBT veterans, the occurrence of these conditions is higher. Also, the cases are more severe than other veterans. Male members of the LGBT veteran community seem to have the highest percentage of people suffering from mental health and addiction issues.

Unfortunately, the VA has been criticized for not tracking this type of information as well as they could. The VA doesn’t always note a veteran’s sexual or gender preference when they’re treated with one of these issues.

The percentage of LGBT veterans struggling with mental health and addiction might be more significant. Also, there might be more than the projected number of LGBT veterans.

LGBT Veteran Treatment Programs

It is always a good idea to work with a therapist and choose a program that specializes in treating both veterans and members of the LGBT community.

As LGBT veterans, their experiences, behaviors, and causes of mental health issues are different from other veterans. The therapist may use similar approaches but focuses on the problems that stem from the person’s experience.

Of course, the treatment program depends on the type of mental illness the LGBT veteran struggles with.

Some standard treatment programs include:

  • Detox for drugs and alcohol
  • Inpatient therapy
  • Outpatient therapy
  • Life Coaching
  • One-on-one therapy sessions
  • Group therapy

The LBGT veteran and their therapist will work together to choose the right program for the patient. It’s important that the LGBT veteran communicate their needs and how therapy is progressing to receive the best treatment possible.

Get LGBT Veteran Help with Solara Mental Health

When an LGBT veteran needs treatment for a mental health issue, they should find the right treatment center. They will need a place that understands the demands of being a veteran and a member of the LGBT community. It takes a layered approach and a compassionate therapist.

At Solara Mental Health, we offer veteran mental health services for all veterans. We also have proven experience treating veterans who are members of the LGBT community. Our staff strives to provide all patients with compassion and understanding to help the patient overcome their issues.

Female Veteran Issues

Today, the number of women enlisting in the US military stands at 14.6%. This is the highest number of women in the military ever recorded in history. Women are the fastest-growing veteran group, with almost 2 million living women veterans. They make up 10% of the total American veteran population.

Despite their sacrifice, women still face challenges that regularly put them at risk of isolation and victimization while on active duty. Also, it proves challenging to transition to civilian life due to systems that remain primarily male-focused in their service delivery. This article discusses female veteran issues, including military sexual trauma (MST), gender differences, unemployment, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and homelessness.

Gender Differences in Veterans

Women’s increased activity in combat operations has spiked an interest in their deployment experiences and transition into civilian life. Understanding female veterans’ emotional and mental issues allows for better mental and physical health treatment.
Women have different experiences from their male counterparts. Female veterans face several issues after their military service. This includes MST, PTSD, homelessness, and unemployment.
In addition, women may face several health issues when military service has been completed. These health issues include thyroid problems, migraines, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal conditions, e.t.c.

Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

MST refers to sexual assault or sexual harassment during active military duty. Reports indicate that 1 in 4 female veterans under the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) healthcare system have experienced MST. While women are at greater risk, about 40% who report MST are men.

Women tend not to report sexual assault due to various reasons. They may want to forget the assault and move on with their lives. Sometimes they may feel ashamed and not want people to know about the assault. Most women also fear retaliation from their co-workers and are afraid no one will believe their accusations.

MST involves any sexual activity one is involved in against their will or when they cannot say no. Some examples include:

  • Sexual encounters when unable to give consent, such as when intoxicated or asleep
  • Forced sexual activities
  • Repeated sexual advances
  • Inappropriate sexual jokes or remarks
  • Uncomfortable physical contact, including during “hazing” experiences
  • Requests of sexual favors with a promise of better treatment

MST can happen to people of all races, ages, gender, sexual orientations, and service branches. It can negatively affect one’s physical and mental health, even years after the incident. It is advisable to seek professional help for female veterans experiencing MST and explore different options to regain control.

Some associated symptoms of MST include:

  • Psychological health issues and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include disturbing nightmares and memories.
  • Substance abuse to escape negative feelings
  • Self-doubt, self-blame, or low self-esteem
  • Physical health problems such as chronic pain or eating disorder
  • Challenge with relationships and engaging in social activities

PTSD in Female Veterans Vs. Male Veterans

The VA defines PTSD as the persistent symptoms causing difficulty in functioning after exposure to a traumatic event. PTSD makes it extremely difficult for veterans to successfully reintegrate into society due to its varying symptoms.

The common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Parenting dissatisfaction
  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Stress and depression
  • Avoidance/numbing/hyperarousal
  • Substance abuse

Military men face a 61% chance of trauma exposure during service. While women in the military have a 51% chance of exposure to trauma during their time in the military. However, PTSD is twice as common in female veterans (10.4%-12.3%) than in male veterans (5.0%-6.0%).

Men in the military have more exposure to traumatic events. However, women seem more likely to experience PTSD symptoms after service. There are a few potential reasons female veterans have more veterans than male counterparts.

The reasons why female veterans may be more susceptible to PTSD include:

  • Women experience traumas that are more prevalent for PTSD, especially sexual assault.
  • Women experience PTSD for a longer duration
  • The female gender has stronger reactions to traumatic events.

Studies show PTSD in female veterans is more often related to MST compared to combat-related in men. Also, about 15% to 35% of veterans with chronic pain experience PTSD. It is never too late to seek help for PTSD. Talking about the experiences with colleagues is an effective coping mechanism for female veterans.

Female Veteran Homelessness

Another common issue that female veterans face is homelessness. Women veterans are four times more likely to face homelessness than their male counterparts and twice as likely as civilian women.

Housing instability among female veterans is commonly associated to:

  • Military sexual trauma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Unemployment
  • Medical problems
  • Relationship termination
  • Childhood adversity
  • Intimate partner violence (IPV)

The housing situation is different for female veterans compared to male counterparts. While homelessness among female veterans has increased by 2% between 2018 and 2019, the men’s situation has declined by 3%. Women also have dependents even when homeless but men are often alone.

In addition, men are more likely to find transitional homes or emergency shelters because most programs are designed specifically for males.
Programs such as the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) offer 24/7 housing services for female veterans. It also addresses military sexual trauma and Intimate partner violence for female veterans.

Female Veteran Unemployment

The USA Today reports a 13.5% unemployment rate among female veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This is five times higher than the average rate for civilian women. Also, it can take up to 8 months for women veterans to find civilian jobs due to factors affecting their transition.

Common factors that make it difficult for female veterans to find civilian jobs include:

  • Certification issues
  • Lack of support
  • Employer discrimination
  • Poor physical health
  • Mismatched skills
  • Medical and mental health concerns

Although the unemployment rate for women veterans is typically higher, the highly competitive market does not improve things. Reaching out to job hunting resources and veterans for support and tips is essential. Support groups are also available to help female veterans expand their career networks.

Help for Female Veterans in San Diego, CA

The increasing women’s involvement in active military roles has increased their exposure to trauma, environmental hazards, and injury. They are at a higher risk of mental and physical health issues with inadequate access to appropriate health care. Knowing and understanding these unique issues is crucial for any change to be effective. It allows the VA to serve the needs of female veterans better during and after military service.

Solara Mental Health in San Diego, California, offers mental health services to struggling veterans, including women veterans. Our veteran mental health program includes therapy, medication management as needed, and help with various mental health disorders.

Compassion Meditation for Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that hundreds of thousands of service members who return home have post-traumatic stress disorder. People with PTSD find it hard to maintain healthy relationships. This may be because they find it daunting to connect with others on an empathic level. 

Most marriages to war veterans fail as their spouses find it challenging to tolerate them. This is due to a lack of connection and behavior change from military service and PTSD.

Fortunately, compassion meditation (CM) has played an instrumental role in treating PTSD among veterans. This is because CM promotes pleasant feelings and social connectedness, which improves coping and resilience in the face of intense stress.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a series of practices designed to cultivate a heightened state of awareness and total concentration. Meditation can take various forms, but the two most common ones are mindfulness meditation and concentration meditation. In essence, meditation is a practice that alters awareness that has been found to have numerous positive effects on psychological health.

Meditation is not limited to a specific location, position, or duration. Instead, it assists a person focus their mind on the present moment and cultivating overall physical and mental health. It also helps people to hone specialized talents such as concentration, compassion, and insight.

Benefits of Meditation for Veterans

Meditation has essential benefits for veterans. Some of them include: 

  1. It equips veterans with the skills necessary to regulate their anger and depressive thoughts.
  2. It enhances their empathy and understanding.
  3. It prevents them from experiencing abrupt flashbacks or negatively reliving the past.
  4. It helps veterans create healthy relationships with others.
  5. It prevents relapses and alleviates significant debilitating mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

What is Compassion Meditation?

Compassion is a combination of genuine sympathy and the desire to alleviate suffering. Compassion meditation is a practice for dissolving egoism and isolation. This is done through compassion by recognizing that one is not alone in experiencing misery.

It is based on Buddhist philosophy profoundly and encourages veterans to think compassionately. It is a means for connecting with one’s pain and unleashing the underlying compassion one possesses.

The basis of this practice is that suffering is inevitable in life. Veterans should accept it and be sympathetic toward their feelings and those persons close to them. The exercise encourages them to recognize and exercise their humanity.

Elements of Self-Compassion Meditation

Self-compassion meditation has three fundamental components. They include:

  • Self-kindness vs Self-judgment

Self-compassion is being warm and sympathetic toward oneself. And carrying these beliefs in the face of various circumstances and challenges. These may include hardship, failure, or feelings of inadequacy, as opposed to ignoring our misery or self-flogging.

  • Humanity vs Isolation

The term “human” suggests a person is mortal, vulnerable, and defective. Therefore, self-compassion requires recognizing that suffering and personal insufficiency are part of the universal human experience. For this, one should not exclude themselves in times of tribulations. 

  • Mindfulness vs Over-identification

Self-compassion also requires an approach to negative emotions that are neither repressed nor magnified. This balanced perspective is the consequence of contrasting one’s suffering with that of others. 

Benefits of Compassion Meditation for Veterans

The practice of compassion meditation:

  1. Improves mood
  2. Increases altruistic conduct
  3. Decreases aggression
  4. Reduces stress
  5. Reduces maladaptive mind wandering in veterans. 

Compassion and loving-kindness meditation build a sense of benevolence and warmth towards other people. The more veterans care about others, the better they can begin to understand others’ emotions. 

Compassion has the impact of calming the mind. This leads to a reduction of worries and uncertainties and bolsters veterans’ ability to face the challenges of daily life.

Compassion is an integral trait in psychotherapy. This led to the development of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). CFT stresses the significance of practicing compassion to live a healthy and fulfilled life. The top advantages of compassion-based meditation are increased well-being, relief from disease, and enhanced emotional intelligence.

Tips for a More Effective Practice of Compassion Meditation

When one begins practicing compassion meditation, they should use themselves as the only focus of meditation. People learn to visualize people in their practice as they get more at ease with the images and loving sentiments.

Encouraging troubled individuals to exercise loving-kindness meditation is highly advisable. This final component of loving-kindness meditation increases sentiments of forgiveness. It also helps them let go of rumination, resulting in a great sense of inner peace. 

Compassion Meditation for PTSD

Veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) intensively due to the traumatic events they are exposed to in war. Fortunately, meditation has proven to be a perfect fix to counter PTSD. Additionally, compassion has a good effect on positive feelings and social functioning. For this, combining compassion and meditation guarantees you optimal positive results. 

Cognitively based compassion training is a compassion mediation program that entails a series of contemplative practices. These practices are intended to enhance the capacity to extend and sustain compassion toward oneself and others. It also involves present-moment procedures with reflective analytical methods, promoting cognitive evaluation and modifying habitual mental processes to increase empathy. 

Treatment for Veterans 

It is never too late to get treatment as a veteran. Whether a person has just returned from combat or has been back for 40 years. Counseling or therapy can assist in managing symptoms and preventing symptoms from worsening. 

A therapist can assist a service member with PTSD in a variety of ways. A therapist can help in understanding and altering how their ideas and beliefs about the trauma appear. As well as how stress can perpetuate present symptoms of trauma.

Family and marital therapy are counseling procedures that involve the service members’ families. A therapist assists all parties in communicating, maintaining healthy relationships, and managing difficult emotions. PTSD can substantially influence relationships in some circumstances, making this treatment method particularly useful.

Treatment at Solara Mental Health 

Many veterans know they need additional assistance with their condition but do not know where to begin. As a result, they delay seeking medical help, worsening their conditions. We are committed to providing veterans with a comprehensive array of mental health services at Solara Mental Health. Our team delivers quality service to ensure you are well after the process. 

If you or a veteran you love is struggling with mental health, reach out to Solara Mental Health today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our veteran mental health services

Traumatic Brain Injury & Veterans

Unfortunately, veteran experiences during service can lead to mental and physical damage, including traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) around 414,000 American service members and veterans experienced a traumatic brain injury between 2000 and 2019.

It is essential for veterans with an expected or official diagnosis of TBI to get treatment. Without treatment, TBIs can lead to more physical and mental health difficulties. Treatment can allow for fulfilling lives surrounded by friends, family, and loved ones.

What is a TBI?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a severe injury that impacts how the brain works. These injuries can be caused by getting bumped, jolted, or hit in the head. It can also be caused by a penetrating injury, such as a gunshot.

There are several ways to get a TBI. For example, athletes who play a contact sport, like football, might be at risk of getting a TBI. In addition, someone can get a TBI after getting into a vehicle accident or suffering from a severe fall.

TBIs affect a significant amount of people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States saw over 64,000 deaths related to TBI in 2020. The CDC also estimates that roughly two percent of the population live with a disability that results from a TBI.

While anyone can get a traumatic brain injury, specific populations are more likely to experience it, including:

  • People who live in rural areas
  • Veterans and service members
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Intimate partner violence survivors
  • Those in correctional and detention facilities

Military service men and women risk getting a TBI through experiencing explosions in combat or even from vigorous training exercises.

TBI Symptoms

Depending on the severity of the traumatic brain injury, it may be or may not be immediately evident that a person has one. One thing to consider is whether the person at risk of developing a TBI has recently suffered from a blow to the head.

Some additional symptoms to look for when determining whether a person might have a TBI include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Constant headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Light sensitivity
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Increased aggressiveness in relationships
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Extreme mood swings or even personality changes
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Vision problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Motor impairment (for severe cases)

If a person is experiencing these symptoms after a head injury, they will need an official diagnosis. A diagnosis can be made after completing a series of testing. These tests can involve X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans. Imaging allows doctors to look inside the brain and identify any visible damage.

TBIs in Veterans

TBIs among veterans are common, however 82.4 %  were considered mild according to the Department of Defense. Another 9.1 percent were considered moderate, and 1 percent were considered severe.

However mild cases may be, they can still cause disruptions in the lives of the diagnosed veterans. Some veterans might experience sleep disorders, headaches, irritability, and memory problems. These symptoms make it challenging to hold down a job or maintain healthy family relationships.

These symptoms can lead to long-term mental and physical health problems. Such problems may impact veterans’ employment opportunities and make it more difficult to reintegrate into civilian life.

While historically, veterans have developed TBIs, they are becoming more prominent with recent activity. According to studies, 22 percent of combat wounds from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq were brain injuries. In comparison, 12 percent of combat wounds in Vietnam were TBIs.

When considering the severity of TBI, doctors will consider many things, including:

  • The severity of brain swelling, bruising, or bleeding as seen on computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Length of loss of consciousness
  • Length of memory loss
  • The individual’s responsiveness after injury

A concussion is another term for a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). These can be more challenging to identify immediately than severe TBI because concussions do not always appear on imaging tests. Additionally, TBI symptoms are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. PTSD is another disorder that impacts the veteran population at relatively high rates.


Although they may share similar symptoms, being diagnosed with a TBI is not the same as being diagnosed with PTSD. However, there is some overlap between the two conditions.

Often, veterans diagnosed with TBI end up also being diagnosed with PTSD. This is because they got a TBI due to a traumatic event, usually a combat-related incident. The more traumatic the incident that caused the TBI, the more likely the person will also have PTSD.

The symptoms that TBIs and PTSD share include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Extreme irritability

TBIs are not always visually apparent. It is crucial for veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD and have symptoms of TBI to seek medical treatment. A medical professional can help address the issues of both TBIs and PTSD.

Treatment for TBIs in Veterans

A traumatic brain injury is not exclusive to veterans. However, it seems that veterans who suffer from a TBI tend to exhibit symptoms for a more extended period than civilians. While many civilians can recover from a mild TBI within three months, it takes veterans 18 – 24 months to recover.

Additionally, veterans with a traumatic brain injury often have overlapping medical conditions that can slow their recovery. These conditions can include chronic pain, substance abuse, and PTSD.All of these factors are why it is so critical for veterans to seek treatment if they have a suspected or diagnosed TBI.

Some treatments that can help veterans with a TBI include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Medication to control specific symptoms

Mental Health Help for Veterans in San Diego

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause physical and mental health difficulties in veterans. With proper treatment, veterans can manage their symptoms and get back to living fulfilling lives.

If you or a veteran you love are struggling with mental health disorder symptoms, reach out to Solara Mental Health today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our veteran mental health services.

Veterans & Substance Abuse

Veteran substance abuse is a significant issue throughout the United States. In fact, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2019, 26.9% of veterans abused illicit drugs. While approximately 80.8% (four in five) abused alcohol, and 7.7% (one in 13) misused both.

What is Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?

Substance use disorder (SUD), often called “addiction,” is a mental health disorder. This disorder causes people to have trouble controlling their use of drugs, alcohol, and other substances. This misuse, when left untreated, can start influencing many areas of life.

Mental illness, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is also a considerable concern among military personnel. Substance abuse can result in mental health problems. Research involving returning soldiers shows that 20% of active soldiers and 42% of reserve component soldiers required mental health treatment. These statistics come directly from clinicians.

Some individuals attempt to cope with symptoms of PTSD by using alcohol or drugs. There’s a relationship between PTSD and substance abuse, such as using drugs or drinking too much. More than two of 10 veterans with PTSD also deal with Substance Use Disorder.

Nearly one out of every three veterans seeking veteran substance abuse treatment also has PTSD. Fortunately, some treatments help treat both substance abuse and PTSD simultaneously.At Solara Mental Health Treatment Center in San Diego, we take Veterans’ mental health seriously. We do everything in our power to provide our Veterans in need with the adequate treatment they deserve.

Signs of Substance Abuse in Veterans

Some signs of Veteran substance abuse include:

  • Lack of ability to stop using drugs or drinking, even though there are negative consequences
  • Increased urge to use drugs or drink
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal or feeling sick when drug use or drinking stops
  • Change in relationships because of drug use or drinking
  • Increased tolerance where there’s an increased need for more potent drugs or more alcohol over time to achieve the desired effect
  • Feeling anxious or depressed about their substance use

The good news is that recovery from SUD or alcohol abuse is possible.

There are treatments available to veterans, such as:

  • Medication
  • Specialized therapy
  • In- and outpatient care
  • Support groups

Risk Factors for Veterans Substance Abuse

The unique military culture and stresses of deployments provide both protective factors and risks related to substance abuse. Active-duty personnel faces a unique set of challenges while they are deployed.

Deployment is linked with:

  • Drug use
  • Unhealthy drinking
  • Smoking initiation
  • Risky behaviors

Many factors contribute to the stigma of drug use while in the military. These factors include lack of confidentiality, zero-tolerance policies, and mandatory random drug testing. The stigma and consequences of drug use can discourage many who require treatment from getting it.

Veterans are also impacted immensely by several critical problems related to substance abuse, such as:

  • Pain
  • Environmental stressors
  • Trauma
  • Suicide risk
  • Homelessness


Many Veterans have unique pain-management problems. Two-thirds of veterans report experiencing pain. Over 9% report dealing with severe pain, whereas only 6.4% of non-veterans report experiencing severe pain. This puts Veterans at a greater risk for an accidental overdose of opioid pain relievers.


Increased combat exposure that involves trauma and violence experienced by individuals who serve leads to a higher risk of alcohol abuse.

Environmental Stressors

All Veterans go through a readjustment period after leaving the military. They need to adjust to re-entering their lives with friends, family, and their community. This leaves them with unique mental health issues. Various military personnel-specific environmental stressors have been associated with an increased SUD risk among Veterans and military personnel, including:

  • Combat exposure
  • Deployment
  • Post-deployment reintegration/civilian issues

Among Veterans seeking first-time care within the Veterans Health Administration system, almost 11% meet SUD diagnosis criteria.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions

Many Veterans with Substance Use Disorder often have a co-occurring mental health disorder. These disorders may include PTSD, anxiety, or depression.
Those injured during combat, hospitalized, or experienced trauma have a greater risk for increased drug or alcohol use. Veterans with Substance Use Disorder are three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression or PTSD.

Among recent Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, 63% who receive a SUD diagnosis also meet PTSD criteria. Veterans with a dual diagnosis of SUDs and PTSD have a greater risk of having additional co-occurring disorders. These disorders can be both medical and psychiatric.

These disorders may include:

Suicidal Behavior

In the military, substance abuse frequently precedes suicidal behavior. Drug or alcohol use was involved in around 30% of suicides in the Army. In 2003, substance abuse was related to over 45% of veteran suicide attempts. Also, approximately 20% of high-risk behavior fatalities were linked to drug or alcohol overdose.


It’s estimated that around 11% of homeless adults are U.S. military Veterans. And these homeless Veterans are dealing with unique barriers and challenges to SUD treatment. It is essential to identify the needs of homeless veterans. By identifying what challenges and needs the person has, a foundation for assistance can occur.

Some factors that help support homeless veterans are:

  • Outreach services
  • Supportive services
  • Housing assistance
  • Case management
  • Mental health treatment
  • Substance abuse treatment

Veterans may be more likely to accept treatment for substance abuse when they have mental health and housing security.

Treatment for Substance Abuse in Veterans

For Veterans with substance use disorders or alcoholism, the essential first steps toward lasting recovery are detox and medication management. This is the case for veterans with co-occurring disorders as well. Before starting treatment at Solara Mental Health, supervised medical detoxification may be required. We refer them to one of our partnering centers, which are long-established, licensed, and very credible detox facility.


Through detoxification, patients go through the physical process where their bodies expel toxins (i.e., drugs, alcohol, medications, etc.) under the supervision of a physician who monitors the whole detox process.  The length of this process will vary based on the client’s needs.

Doctors will often prescribe detox medications to keep our clients comfortable during the detox process if needed. During this period, rest is typical but they may also engage in other activities when they feel they can.

Medication Management

Most clients participating in our program have a few medications prescribed to them. Our staff and program psychiatrist will review and assess all medication regimens. We do this to ensure our clients take the most effective medication possible. Our mental health professionals will ensure that clients feel comfortable with prescribed medicines.

Help for Veterans in San Diego

Addiction and substance abuse are common mental health disorders that veterans struggle with. Addiction can be treated with psychotherapy and medication management when needed. Veterans often turn to substances when struggling with mental health conditions like PTSD, depression, or anxiety.

Solara Mental Health in San Diego, CA, offers mental health services to veterans. If you or a veteran you love are struggling with mental health, reach out to Solara today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our veteran mental health services.

Veterans Service Animals

Returning to civilian life is often more difficult than veterans may anticipate. Especially if they develop certain mental or physical health conditions while serving or after getting home. Service members and their families can face a variety of challenges when veterans make the transition to civilian life.

Many veterans find that adopting a service animal is helpful when learning to live a happier and more independent life. However, it is important that service animal assistance is combined with other treatment options. Keep reading for an overview of some of the most common mental and physical health conditions veterans experience. As well as information on service animals and their benefits in helping veterans adjust to civilian life.

Mental Health Disorders Veterans Struggle With

Many veterans are diagnosed with various mental health disorders during and after their deployments. These mental health conditions can interfere with a veteran’s ability to successfully return to civilian life. Even veterans who do not return home with physical injuries can be deeply impacted by their service.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a condition most common to veterans and most studied by professionals. This condition causes flashbacks that feel realistic, nightmares, and other negative memories of traumatic events. These flashbacks to wartime events have long-term effects, impacting approximately 10-20 percent of veterans. Flashbacks can be triggered by loud noises, references, and other situations that strongly remind them of past events.


Traumatic experiences during deployment can also lead to depression, especially after a veteran has left the military. The brain is often capable of protecting individuals from the full effects of experiencing trauma, in the moment. However, once veterans are removed from active duty, the psychological effects of military service may appear. Upon returning to civilian life, veterans may experience distress as they relive their time in combat.

Veterans may face intense feelings of guilt or anxiety upon their return home. Returning to civilian life can uncover a wide range of emotions for veterans. In many cases, these emotions may feel overwhelming. If left unaddressed these distressing thoughts and feelings can lead to depression.

Substance Use Disorders

Many veterans turn to excessive alcohol or drug use to cope with the mental and physical effects of military life. It is possible for substance abuse to occur on its own. Some veterans may have had an existing substance use disorder prior to enlisting in the military. However, it is not uncommon for substance use disorder to be paired with other mental health conditions in veterans.

Health Conditions Veterans Struggle With

Veterans can also struggle with certain physical health conditions more frequently than the general population. Dealing with these challenges to physical health may make them more vulnerable to developing mental health conditions.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Certain types of traumatic brain injuries can make it difficult for veterans to think clearly enough to accomplish certain tasks. Some injuries can make it physically difficult to do things most people can do easily. These injuries often require extensive rehabilitation to move toward any semblance of a normal life. Extensive rehabilitation services for traumatic brain injuries can be difficult for veterans and their families to afford.

Chronic Pain

Many veterans that experienced severe injuries will live with chronic pain for years or even the majority of their lives. Chronic pain can have an impact on how veterans are able to live their day-to-day lives. Some veterans may no longer be able to engage in their favorite hobbies or complete tasks that were once easy. Some veterans may choose to manage their chronic pain through medication, which can turn into dependency when left unchecked.

Physical Disabilities

Some serious injuries may result in physical disabilities that make it difficult to live a normal life. Injuries that may have impaired a veteran’s ability to accomplish everyday tasks are fairly common in the military. If a veteran has lost a limb physically or has limited mobility, they face physical challenges every day. These disabilities can lead to depression and make readjusting to civilian life even harder than it can be for other veterans.

How Service Animals Can Help

Service animals can help many veterans with these mental and physical health conditions. These animals can help manage their symptoms and improve the quality of their lives. Service animals typically fall into two categories of training.

Traditional service animals are specially trained to help their companion with physical tasks, typically a trained service dog. Emotional support animals are trained to help their companion improve mental health. Veterans may need to consider what type of service animal they need based on their specific situations.

Both types of service animals are specially trained to assist their owners in specific ways. Service animals are trained to assist veterans with independent living and improve their overall outlook on life. Even when the challenges they are facing seem impossible, service animals can assist veterans to return to civilian life.

Where to Find a Service Animal

Veterans have the option to find a service animal through traditional methods. However, there are several organizations that were created specifically to help veterans find just the right service animal for them. These service animals are trained specifically to handle conditions that most frequently affect veterans.

Some of the best options for finding a service animal as a veteran include:

The VA does not typically provide the actual service animals to veterans. However, the VA will assist veterans with finding a good fit at a reputable organization for their specific needs. The VA can help find an organization that specializes in training dogs who are specifically intended to be paired with veterans.

Get Veteran Mental Health Services at Solara

Service animals are generally the most effective when paired with other treatment options. Veterans returning from military service have many options in caring for their mental health. Solara Mental Health is a top choice among veterans in San Diego and surrounding areas. We offer a wide range of mental health treatments to veterans.

Receiving specialized therapy and treatment can help ease veterans’ transition from military to civilian life. Therapy can be especially helpful for veterans who are experiencing difficulty transitioning to civilian life. We provide treatment options to veterans in our care at Solara.

Our team of trained professionals has a proven history of supporting veterans’ mental health. Contact Solara today to learn more about the mental health services we offer for veterans.

Veteran Homelessness

In the US, Veterans make up about six percent of the population, but eight percent of the homeless.  Veterans are at an increased risk of homelessness due to war activity and an increased likelihood of developing mental health disorders.

Veteran homelessness seems to grow as a problem that doesn’t have an easy solution. The Veteran’s Administration (VA) struggles to help the ever-increasing numbers of homeless vets but struggles to keep up with the problem. Understanding the causes and risks of veteran homelessness can help reduce the homeless veteran population.

What Is Veteran Homelessness?

A veteran served in one of the branches of the United States military — Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Space Force. Veterans may have served during wartime and participated in war abroad. Since the mid-1970s, service in the military has been voluntary.

After finishing military service, a service member is considered a veteran indefinitely. Participation in a conflict zone has occurred during time spent in the military to be regarded as a war veteran. However, not every veteran leaves the military service and can afford to rent or buy a home.

In some cases, a veteran doesn’t have access to a safe, reliable home and becomes homeless. Other cases where veterans suffer from mental health issues that become exacerbated during the service. When struggling with mental health disorders finding the resources to deal with issues after discharge from military service can be challenging.

Once back in civilian life, these veterans can struggle to get the mental health care needed and become homeless. Addiction is also a big contributor to the homeless veteran population. According to the VA, in January of 2020, there were 37,252 homeless veterans, and this number represents a 50 percent decrease in homeless veterans since 2009.

Who Does Veteran Homelessness Affect?

Not all veterans and war veterans become homeless after leaving the military.

The homeless veteran population has served in a variety of conflicts, including:

  • World War II
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
  • Grenada
  • Panama
  • Lebanon
  • Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom

According to the 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), these are some of the statistics concerning the veteran homeless population:

  • Veterans make up more than 8 percent of the sheltered homeless population. More than 75 percent of homeless veterans struggle with some form of addiction.
  • 19.750 veterans were experiencing sheltered homelessness in 2021
  • Almost all of the veterans experiencing sheltered homeless were doing so on an individual level without family
  • 92% of  homeless veterans were male, which is similar to the percentage of men who are veterans in the US (91%)
  • 18,243 beds in shelters were dedicated to veterans in 2021
  • African American veterans made up more than one-third of the homeless veteran population, although 12% of the overall veteran population is African American
  • California has the highest rate of homeless veterans in the US, with 16%

In this study, sheltered homelessness occurs when living in places like emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, and other supportive settings. Unsheltered homelessness occurs when living in places not meant for habitation like cars, parks, sidewalks, and abandoned buildings.

Many homeless veterans struggle with an addiction or a mental health disorder. As part of the homeless population, veterans find it difficult to get the healthcare and services needed to recover and return to a normal life.

What Are Some of the Causes of Homelessness in Veterans?

As with the homeless population in general, the veterans in this situation highlight some common causes for their current state. The causes of veteran homeless can vary based on experiences and predispositions to other conditions.

Most common causes of veteran homelessness include:

  • Skills learned in service do not translate to high-paying jobs in the private sector
  • High cost of housing produces a challenge to rent or buy a home with low-income
  • Struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can make it difficult to maintain employment and housing
  • Lacking immediate family or a network of friends that can provide temporary housing
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects many veterans who served during combat missions, and the symptoms leave them unable to maintain jobs and relationships
  • Mental health disorders left untreated can cause difficulties maintaining housing and social relationships

The key to minimizing homelessness in the veteran population is to address its causes. Determining the root cause of homelessness in veterans can help reduce homelessness and ease a return to civilian life.

Risk Factors of Veteran Homelessness

Certain situations and conditions can put a veteran at risk for homelessness. While the risk factors don’t guarantee that the veteran will become homeless, it’s advisable to be aware of and monitor these risk factors.

Risk factors for veteran homeless can include:

  • Low paying or unskilled jobs
  • Living at or below the poverty line based on the area of residence
  • Struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • Lacking a close family connection or a reliable social network
  • Struggling with mental health disorders
  • Living in an area that is economically depressed without access to medical care, nutritious food, and safe, affordable housing

Final Thoughts

Veteran homelessness is an ongoing concern without an easy solution. Veterans ‘ mental health and substance abuse struggles are a big risk factor for veteran homelessness. Offering treatment for struggling veterans can mitigate the risk of losing a home or shelter.

Solara Mental Health in San Diego, CA, is partnered with the VA to offer mental health services to veterans in need. If you or a veteran you love is struggling with mental health disorders, reach out to us today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our veteran mental health program.