Little is known about homelessness among Canadian Forces (CF) and Allied Forces (AF) Veterans. The purpose of this first national study was to understand the experience of homelessness among Veterans of the CF and AF, to discover the underlying causes of homelessness and to provide recommendations to improve services to Veterans. An interpretative phenomenological methodology guided the study to focus on understanding the experience of homelessness among the CF and AF population. A purposive sample of 54 homeless CF and AF veterans in three provinces and five cities (London, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary) were interviewed who met the inclusion criteria. Fifty-four transcriptions were analyzed to identify common themes until an understanding of the experience of homeless Veterans was attained. Three themes were identified: A long journey from the military home to homelessness; the best and the worst of the system, and; two different worlds: like being on Mars and coming to Earth. Alcoholism was one of the major issues identified that lead ultimately to homelessness many years after their release from the military. Recommendations from participants for the Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and implications for education, practice and research will be discussed.
The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness is the largest national research institute devoted to homelessness in Canada. The COH is the curator of the Homeless Hub.
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