More than 10,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are homeless or in programs aimed at keeping them off the streets, a number that has doubled three times since 2006, according to figures released by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The rise comes at a time when the total number of homeless veterans has declined from a peak of about 400,000 in 2004 to 135,000 today.
"We're seeing more and more (Iraq and Afghanistan veterans)," says Richard Thomas, a Volunteers of America case manager at a shelter in Los Angeles. "It's just a bad time for them to return now and get out of the military."
The VA blames the rise on a poor economy and the nature of the current wars, where a limited number of troops serve multiple deployments.
The result is a group of homeless veterans where 70% have a history of combat exposure with its psychological effects, says Pete Dougherty, a senior policy adviser on homelessness at the VA.
Among all homeless veterans, perhaps 20% to 33% were in combat, he says.