Women are just one facet of veteran diversity. Here, several USAF airmen (including a woman) salute during the 70th anniversary D-Day commemoration in France.

PICAUVILLE, France – U.S. Air Force Airmen salute as the national anthems of America and France are played during a ceremony in the town of Picauville, France on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2014. The event was one of several commemorations of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day operations conducted by Allied forces during World War II June 5-6, 1944. Over 650 U.S. military personnel have joined troops from several NATO nations to participate in ceremonies to honor the events at the invitation of the French government. http://www.eucom.mil/key-activities/featured-events/d-day-june-6-1944 (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Sara Keller) (CC BY 2.0)

Like any good nonprofit, we keep records to measure our results as part of our dedication to transparency and program effectiveness. We track when referrals come in, and from where. We document in which branch the veteran served, and in which era and location. We keep data on gender, years served, and whether or not the rental deposit is just for them or for a spouse and/or dependents. A study in veteran diversity, it’s quite fascinating to look at these pages of spreadsheets and realize there is no such thing as a stereotypical homeless veteran. If anything, the information is evidence that anyone can become homeless.

Here are a few snapshots of the information so you can get an idea of the diversity of the men and women veterans we serve:

  • 99 of 579 veterans housed through Veterans Matter are women, 38 of them with children to care for.
  • That’s about 30% of the 119 veteran families with children. Another 30% are single men with dependents.
  • Yes, over 20% of the veterans we house have children who’ve been homeless with them.
  • If the stereotypical homeless veteran is a grizzled old white man, it may be a shock that only 23% of the veterans we’ve served are Vietnam veterans. 35% more have served in conflicts within the last 25 years, including Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and/or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or New Dawn (ND).
  • The remaining approximately 42% of veterans now housed through our program have served our country either in other conflicts or in peacetime.
  • 58% are former Army members. 18% were in the Navy, followed by 13% being former Marines. 9% were Air Force service men and women, and 1% spent their service time in the Coast Guard.
  • The veterans we’ve housed have served an average of 3.625 years to protect us.

Pretty amazing to look at the numbers and realize the term “hero” has so many facets to it. Our veterans come from all walks of life to serve for many different reasons. They’ve walked many different paths, but all share this in common: None of them deserve to be homeless. Especially not after what they’ve given, and what they were ultimately willing to give.

Your reasons for caring about veterans are probably as diverse as those heroes themselves. Some of you consider these men and women brothers and sisters in service. Some of you want to honor or memorialize a loved one who was in the military. Some of you simply love your country and hate the idea that it could be a place where veterans are left behind the enemy line of homelessness.

Regardless of why you care, thank you. Thank you for seeing that we serve all who’ve served, and being willing to partner with us in that work. As we get ready for our one of two major yearly campaigns next month, we’d like you to remember why all these men and women – and their children – mean so much to you and get ready to help us push toward our goal of housing 1500 veterans in 2015. We can’t do it without you!