Back In The Basement, And How To Get Out!

Conflicting emotions swirl as I pull into the driveway. Gratitude for having a place to live. Resentment for needing a place to live.

My mom’s house. I’d lived here before enlisting. I never thought I’d be back except to visit. Yet, here I am. Finished with military service and needing help making ends meet. 

Friends tell me I’m not the only one. Others move back in with assorted family members when times are tough. It’s a good thing, they tell me. I can get my bearings. Ease the pressure of accumulating bills.

But being here feels wrong. Like I failed a test I didn’t know I was taking.  I’d dealt with worse things in service. Why does this seem so difficult?

Economic dependence on family has a long history in the United States. Into the 20th century it was common for multiple generations of a family to live together. This interdependent arrangement shared labor, social, and financial resources. Economic and cultural changes led to fewer adult children living with their families of origin.

Now, increasing numbers of adult children are back living with parents or other family members. Economic challenges are a primary reason.

  • 1960 to 2010 data shows an increase from 1990 to 2010 in adults aged 25 to 64 living with their parents, and financially dependent on them (Kahn et al., 2013)

Trends in income dependency within intergenerational households by age, 1960–2010 (Kahn et al., 2013)
  • 2012 data shows that 194,000 Californians aged 50 to 64 were back to living with their parents due to their own economic hardships (Hamilton, 2014)
  • 2014 data shows that more 18 to 34-year-olds lived with their parents than with anyone else (Fry, 2016)
  • 2017 data shows that in large metro areas, up to 28% of 25 to 40-year-olds lived with their parents due to lack of money. (Kirkham, 2019)
(Arsh Raziuddin / The Atlantic; Data: Census Bureau)

2020 data shows that of the 1 in 10 adults moving due to COVID-19, 61% moved to a family member’s home. By November 2020, financial stress had become the main reason for moving. (Cohn, 2021) (Cohn, 2020)

In a 2019 survey, 75% of 18-to 34-year-olds defined adulthood as having financial independence.  Participants defined financial independence as affording day-to-day essentials without outside support. 80% agreed that achieving financial independence is harder than for previous generations.

Obstacles blocking financial independence include debt, high cost of living, unemployment, and underemployment. Extra obstacles for veterans include feeling misunderstood, alone, and unprepared for civilian life. Veterans have access to a range of organizations and services designed to help them. Services cross many areas affecting economic dependence/independence. Some services are conventional; others are not. Examples include:


Helmets To Hardhats
• training and career opportunities in construction trades
• earn while learning

Energy Industry
Troops to Energy Jobs
• translate military skills
• 3 paths
o Ready Now
o Apprenticeship
o Further education
• locate and apply for jobs

Service Members and Veterans |
• use the Apprenticeship Finder to search by occupation or location
• GI Bill benefits apply
• service-connected disability path offered


My Next Move for Veterans
• ‘What do you want to do for a living?’ help from the Dept. of Labor

Find careers like your military job | My Next Move for Veterans
• translate military skills to civilian jobs

O*NET Interest Profiler | My Next Move for Veterans
• on-line tool for exploring what you like doing and how that relates to potential careers

PVA | Paralyzed Veterans | Career Program
• free career support for all veterans
• employment and vocational counseling
• online and recorded seminars on career topics for veterans



Little Farms for Veterans

• hands-on education and training in sustainable agriculture
• for veterans and their families
• helps graduates with farm acquisition and maintenance

Veterans & Beginning Farmer

• employment and training in agriculture
• for veterans, and farmers with disabilities or other functional challenges
• site includes links to farms, ranches, and organizations in the program
• watch a video of how agriculture and veterans help each other

Veteran Farmer Training – Rodale Institute

• paid training in organic agriculture
• typically 2 – 4 months of immersive learning
• housing stipend for relocation


Heroes to Hives

• free 9-month training program open to all veterans
• credits transferrable to Great Plains Master Beekeeping course
• watch a video of veteran experiences with beekeeping and the program


Veterans Conservation Corps
• learn resource management areas like wildfire protection, recreation enhancement, habitat restoration
• training and certification for veterans up to age 35
• term of service with paid living allowance
• list of participating Corps changes with evolving programs & projects


Career Training – Institute for Veterans and Military Families

• free training program
• career tracks in Business Management, Customer Service, and Information Technology
• assessment identifies interests and skill alignment
• certification and job search help


Hiring Heroes – MISSION BBQ

• restaurant chain with a dual mission,
o great barbecue
o honoring military and first-responders
• watch a video on why Mission BBQ wants veterans

Veteran Friendly Employers – Veteran Jobs

• 2021 list
• links go to veteran job sections of the listed employers


11 Free Programs To Help Veterans Succeed As Entrepreneurs
• lists free programs focused on supporting veteran entrepreneurs
• qualifying criteria per program included (e.g., veterans, family members, service-connected disability)


What education benefit programs are offered by VA?
• summaries and links for various programs
Veteran Scholarships and Grants
• help with education tuition, books, lodging, and expenses

Financial Resources for Veterans
• programs and organizations assisting with financial difficulties


Moving Forward: Overcome Life’s Challenges – Veteran Training
• problem-solving tools & techniques
• free and anonymous VA program
• self-paced, online learning
• convert military experience into a civilian-ready resume
• free resume review and improvement feedback
• creation tools to get you started
Secure Your Money Secure Your Future! – Know A Vet
• financial planning basics
• links to a variety of resources

For some, being dependent on parents or other family members feels like a step backward. It can lead to conflict and difficulties. It can also be supportive and strengthen family bonds. Read more:
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans’ Experiences Living with their Parents after Separation from the Military
COVID-19 recession forces grown kids to move home
Moving back in with your parents may be your worst fear—and your best idea yet
Regardless of each personal situation, using available resources can help.

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.

                        -Bertha Calloway

Visit Know A Vet? for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code. Your local VSO can help connect you to other veteran or civilian organizations. To find your local VSO visit Know A Vet? and put your zip code in the box toward the top of the home page for your local Federal, State, and County resources.  

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