Gender and the Use of Veterans Health Administration Homeless Services Programs Among Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans

This study examines Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans’ use of homeless programs as provided by Veterans Health Administration (VHA). It specifically looks at gender specific risk of using a VHA homeless program, as women make up 12 percent of OEF/OIF veterans: the largest proportion of women to serve, be exposed to combat, and utilize VHA.

OEF/OIF veterans with at least one inpatient or outpatient VHA visit between October 1, 2001 and September 30, 2009 were included in this study. A total of 445,319 veterans were included, and the study’s analysis looked at the time to first use of a VHA homeless program.

Key Findings:

  • 961 females (1.8%) and 6,470 males (1.7%) used VHA homeless programs.
  • Median time to first use was similar for both female and male veterans (1.88 years).
  • Women were more likely to use a VHA homeless program if they were between 26-35 years, had 100 percent service-connected disability rating, had a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis, or resided in the Northeast of the United States.

Overall, this study shows no substantial difference of sex-specific risk of using a VHA homeless program among OEF/OIF Veterans: females were as likely as males to utilize programs. More research and attention are required, however, to address the female subgroups that may be at more risk.