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Taking Issue   |    
Homelessness and Premature Mortality Among Veterans
Ira R. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2013; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.640704
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senior consultant for mental health program analysis, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Copyright © 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has emerged as a significant and highly visible provider of mental health services. This issue includes several contributions from VA researchers. Two are related to homelessness among veterans and another to the effects of VA’s ongoing mental health enhancements on suicide rates among veterans. Analyses of mortality data presented in the Datapoints column show that among veterans with a diagnosis of severe mental illness, homelessness was a stronger contributor than diagnosis to years of potential life lost. A letter to the editor reports that among veterans who die from suicide, homeless veterans die at younger ages than other veterans. Together, the two contributions suggest that enrollment in a health system and receipt of homelessness services are not sufficient to address the problem of homelessness. It may take specific services.

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