Unemployment and Co-occurring Disorders Among Homeless Veterans

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Objective: To examine employment patterns from 2005 to 2008 among homeless veterans with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders relative to national trends in veteran and non-veteran populations.

Methods: Unemployment rates for homeless veterans (N = 328) with co-occurring disorders were compared to national veteran and non-veteran unemployment rates using Current Population Survey data.

Results: From 2005 to 2008, unemployment among the homeless veteran sample with co-occurring disorders increased from 47% to 66%. While unemployment decreased for Current Population Survey comparison groups from 2006 to 2007, homeless veterans with co-occurring disorders experienced a 35.62% increase in unemployment.

Conclusions: Homeless veterans with co-occurring disorders were disproportionately affected by the 2007 recession. This increase in unemployment, relative to comparison group data, indicates the need for more comprehensive and integrated vocational supports aimed at obtaining competitive employment upon program discharge. Future research should monitor the impact of economic fluctuations on placement and employment sustainability for homeless veterans with co-occurring disorders.


Unemployment, Homeless, Veterans, Substance abuse, Mental illness, Co-occurring disorders

DOI of Published Version



O’Connor, K., Kline, A., Sawh, L., Rodrigues, S., Fisher, W., Kane, V., Kuhn, J., Ellison, M., Smelson, D. (2013). Unemployment and co-occurring disorders among homeless Veterans. Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 9(2), 134-138. doi: 10.1080/15504263.2013.778804

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Dual Diagnosis