November 25, 2013 --- Colorado Springs, Colo. --- Overall, slightly fewer Persian Gulf and Afghanistan war veterans are seeking services from US rescue missions, according to a survey conducted by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) in October of this year.
The 24th annual Snapshot Survey taken at 105 missions across North America showed a 2 percent decline in the total number of veterans seeking aid. Persian Gulf and Afghanistan war veterans both showed a 4 percent decline. Nearly 17,000 individuals answered the questions that made up the survey.
"We know that the Veterans Administration and other groups are working diligently to help the men and women who leave the military integrate back into society," said John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM). "But we still have over 12 percent of the homeless our missions serve coming from the military community, and that is too many. We owe these veterans a debt of gratitude, and we can repay that somewhat by making sure they have their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing met when they find themselves in dire straits."
As recently as last week, the Veterans Administration announced an additional $4.9 million in grants for 25 homeless veteran programs in 11 states. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki stated in a VA news release: "Until no Veteran has to sleep on our nation's streets, we still have work to do."
Rescue missions offer multiple programs for veterans in need, as well as partnering with other agencies in their communities to help veterans find solutions to homelessness.
The Snapshot Survey, conducted at gospel rescue missions in October 2013, provides a valuable snapshot of those seeking assistance from rescue missions, most (81 percent) of whom are currently homeless.
The 2013 data also showed a small decrease in the number of people reporting that they were victims of physical violence. One in five reported they had suffered violence in the past 12 months, a decline of 5 percent over last year. Those self-reporting that they struggled with mental health issues remained at approximately one-third of those surveyed.
Demographically, the survey showed little change over the last three years in the age, gender and ethnicity of the homeless at rescue missions. Approximately half were Caucasian, a third African- American and just over 10 percent Hispanic. Among the people surveyed, 82 percent were single individuals. Of those who came to a mission with a family, 52 percent were single women with children. The largest group of homeless were between 46 and 65 years of age – at 41% of those surveyed, a slight increase from the 2012 survey. Those between 36 and 45 years of age were the second largest group at 22 percent – marginally less than last year.
Eighty-one percent of the individuals come daily to the mission where they were surveyed; almost as many (79 percent) prefer to receive assistance from an agency with a spiritual emphasis.
Every year, faith-based ministries that are members of AGRM serve between 40 and 50 million meals, provide 15 to 20 million nights of lodging, distribute more than 25 million pieces of clothing, bandage the wounds of hundreds of abuse victims, and graduate close to 20,000 men and women from addiction-recovery programs and into productive living.
Founded in 1913, the Colorado Springs-based AGRM is North America's oldest and largest network of independent crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers, offering radical hospitality in the name of Jesus. With approximately 285 member missions, AGRM exists to proclaim the passion of Jesus toward the hungry, homeless, abused and addicted, and to accelerate quality and effectiveness in member missions. For more information, visit www.agrm.org or call (800) 4RESCUE.
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The Snapshot Survey Report may be downloaded from: http://www.agrm.org/Document.asp?DocID=278