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UC Research On Homeless Veterans Presented In Washington, D.C.

November 5, 2009

Research examining issues surrounding homeless veterans and the types of relationships they had with their fathers was presented Nov. 4 at the VA Veteran Homelessness Summit in Washington, D.C. The research was a collaboration between Gary Dick, associate professor of Social Work at the University of Cincinnati, and Brad Schaffer, social worker for the Veterans Administration Cincinnati Medical Center. The summit, organized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, launched an initiative to end homelessness among veterans in the next five years.

The UC/Cincinnati VA research focused on a sample of 190 homeless veterans (96 percent male; four percent female) from the Midwest; the median age was 47. The researchers wanted to examine the types of relationships the veterans had with their biological fathers while growing up, as well as whether veterans involved in domestic violence as adults had different relationships with their fathers than non-violent veterans.

The survey found that 43 percent of the men reported they had grown up living with their biological father and 34 percent reported a close relationship with their father.

The men who reported that they were more negatively involved with their fathers and reported low father involvement were more likely to have been psychiatrically hospitalized, depressed, to have reported suicidal thoughts or taken a medication to treat depression ““ which were also predictors of veterans prone to violence against their partners. The homeless veterans who reported a high father involvement reported that their fathers were more nurturing, were engaged in the veterans’ activities when they were children, were a good provider and were more assessable and responsible.

The researchers say the findings show that whether or not the biological father remains at home, his involvement with his children plays a significant role in their children’s own family responsibilities in adulthood.

Figures from the Interagency Council on the Homeless released in 1999 reported that 23 percent of the nation’s homeless population are veterans and that 47 percent of them are from the Vietnam Era. Seventy-six percent of them have experienced alcohol, drug or mental health problems, according to figures released by the council.

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