This documentary was broadcast on BBC World Service radio in September 2008. I wrote, produced and presented it. The final edit was done by David Prest at Whistledown Productions.
Advocacy groups estimate that at least 1,500 veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are sleeping rough in America’s cities. Official figures show that 150,000 veterans of all ages are living in shelters or on the streets each night, although many homeless charities say the true number is more like double that. The current wars are already swelling this vagrant population, and when the process of eventual withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan begins, it’s likely to put further strain on an overburdened system.
Almost half of these “lost veterans” have a drug abuse problem, over a third have serious psychiatric disorders. Many have been to prison. I spoke to many of those trying to get back on track, hearing about their struggles reintegrating into civilian society.