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Recent war vets face risk of homelessness

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Homeless veteransMore 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.

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