CHARLESTON, W.Va.--Jason Wood is happy he has a part-time job at the Charleston Civic Center.
It means the 40-year-old veteran is a step closer to finding his first permanent housing in a year.
But it's not enough.
"I need a job. I need a full-time job," Wood said, wearing a red Tshirt and dark pants as he sat on a couch at a transitional housing facility in Charleston.
"I need purpose."
New federal data show he's one of many West Virginia who qualify as homeless. But local experts say programs and efforts are locating and helping homeless veterans bounce back.
By the numbers
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released new data last week on the number of homeless people across the nation in 2013. It also provides data for every state and certain regions within each state.
There are 2,240 homeless people in West Virginia, according to the report. That's 170 less than in 2012 and 29 fewer than 2011, according to additional department data.
At the same time, there are more homeless veterans.
In 2011, there were 302 veterans without permanent housing in West Virginia, according to department data. That number dropped to 268 in 2012 but jumped back up to 329 in 2013.
Across the country veterans are more likely to be homeless than people who didn't serve in the armed forces, said Amanda Sisson, assistant director of the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness.
There's no one reason that someone becomes homeless: Sisson said some people don't have a good support network, suffer from mental or medical issues or can't overcome addiction.
For veterans, that's amplified. She pointed to national statistics that show veterans suffer from substance abuse, mental and physical health issues at higher rates than the average person.
"Most of the veterans that I have come in contact with who are homeless are from Vietnam," she added.
"And it's that era of veterans who are experiencing homelessness. But I also think we are going to see a lot of younger veterans coming back who suffer from traumatic brain injuries (and other issues) become homeless."
There are close to 170,000 veterans in West Virginia. A 2012 survey of roughly 1,200 veterans showed 42 percent suffer from some sort of service-related disability.
About 40 percent of those surveyed meet the criteria indicating they are depressed, and another 25 percent met the criteria to show they suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, or PTSD.
At the same time, Sisson thinks the federal data can be a little misleading.
Every January, volunteers go out one night and "comb the streets" to find homeless people, she explained. The data also includes people living in emergency shelters or transitional housing who would be homeless without these programs, she said.
The government is also doing a better job counting the number of homeless people in the state, she said. The coalition didn't have any full-time employees until 2010, and it's steadily getting more support.
The Supportive Services for Veterans Families program recently received more than $3 million in federal grant funds, she said. Additionally, the state Department of Health and Human Resources distributes grants for programs battling homelessness in 11 counties.
Still, Sisson said the coalition has to estimate about half of its own data, based on things like county population, geography and counties of similar size.