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  • John Proctor

Homeless Veterans Program

Glen Allen, Virginia - For the past few articles, we’ve been focusing on programs to be of aid to our homeless veterans, and today, we will be doing the same with me introducing to you the programs I’ve found so far by skimming through the web!

Before all that, let me bring to you some information regarding statistics by as a sort of awareness check and to broaden your knowledge on our veterans’ current situation.

Did you know?

  • Around 40,000 veterans in the US do not have shelter on any given night with 60,000 of them sleeping on the streets and 1.4 million being at risk of homelessness

  • It’s been since the year 2011 that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness had been over 40%

  • The leading causes of homelessness among veterans are PTSD, social isolation, unemployment, and substance abuse with there being 50% homeless veterans having serious mental illnesses, 70% having substance abuse problems, and 51% having disabilities which serves as another cause for unemployment

  • 11% of homeless adults being veterans.

  • Homelessness is concentrated mostly in urban areas wherein 68% of homeless veterans reside in principal cities because they believe that they have better opportunities of surviving in these places.

The Leading Causes of Veteran Homelessness

  1. Social isolation and lack of support – 1 out of 5 of the veteran population live alone, having low marriage and high divorce rates, leading to the lack of proper social support after discharge.

  2. Veterans are at greater risk of homelessness than non-veterans – This had been concluded through a joint study between Yale University and the VA Connecticut Health Care System in 2015.

  3. Substance abuse – This includes both alcohol and drug abuse in which it serves as a major factor for homelessness.

  4. Despair caused by mental illness among homeless veterans – According to a large-scale VA study on the mental health of veterans from 2012, it was revealed that mental disorders are common among homeless veterans with PTSD being the leading disorder and anxiety closely following.

  5. Lack of affordable housing – This is one of the leading reasons for every homeless person, however, it simply is a bigger problem for veterans.

  6. Unemployment – Veterans often have a hard time finding jobs due to a combination of factors in which mental or physical problems and substance abuse may or may not be included.

Measures Taken to Reduce the Percentage of Homeless Veterans so far:

  1. Rapid re-housing by the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) wherein it aims to provide housing to homeless veterans of which tens of thousands of veterans have already seen the benefits.

  2. Stable housing provided by various charities – the agency HUD supported by three main programs in reaching the goal, them being HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing), HPRP (Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program), and CoC (Continuum of Care).

  3. Charities such as DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Volunteers of America, US Vets, and IAVA, dedicated in providing different groups such as veterans and the homeless the help they need to live a life with dignity by ensuring the veterans’ access to a full range of benefits at their disposal.

  4. VA’s Health Care program operating at over 100 sites in which health care services, treatments, referrals, and case management are included in the program.

  5. The Salvation Army offering a variety of services that a homeless vet might need as food and lodging for varying amounts of time are provided to those in need. Meanwhile, education, counseling, and vocation assistance are also available.

Over the past years, the VA had been committed to ending homelessness among veterans with them having a threefold focus:

  1. Conducting coordinated outreach to proactively seek out Veterans in need of assistance.

  2. Connecting homeless and at-risk Veterans with housing solutions, health care, community employment services and other required supports.

  3. Collaborating with federal, state and local agencies; employers; housing providers, faith-based and community nonprofits; and others to expand employment and affordable housing options for Veterans exiting homelessness.

Meanwhile, the benefits offered to all U.S. military veterans, homeless or not, include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial.

Naturally, with the VA being dedicated to ending homelessness amongst the veterans, there are benefits specially offered to homeless veterans where there’s a need to apply to avail them:

Health Care

Care is provided by the VA Health Care Network across the nation in which the health care programs offered include mental health services. The facilities involved in accomplishing this are as follows: VA Medical Centers, Community-Based Outpatient Clinics, and Vet Centers.

Housing Assistance

For this objective, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) partner to provide supportive housing and treatment services for homeless Veterans as we’ve previously discussed in one of the recent articles.

Employment Assistance

Employment and training programs are provided to aid veterans in returning to healthy, and productive lifestyles within their communities.

Foreclosure Assistance

This is quite vital especially when one is having trouble paying mortgages, hence, the VA provide assistance with this as well as they may be able to help.

Now for the “how” in availing the said benefits, let’s refer to what was stated in in regard to applying for these:

“Each VA Regional Office has a Homeless Veterans Outreach Coordinator who is a direct point of contact for you to learn more about what benefits you qualify for, assist you with applying for those benefits, and refer you to other organizations and resources that will help you get back on your feet.

To find your local Homeless Veterans Outreach Coordinator, please visit the nearest VA Regional Office or call VA's National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).”

Aside from the aforementioned, other programs and resources offered in the VA Homeless Programs include:

  1. Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program

  2. Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans (DCHV) Program

  3. Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services (HVCES)

  4. Compensated Work Therapy (CWT)

  5. Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCVC)

  6. Homeless Patient Aligned Care Teams (HPACTs) Program

  7. Homeless Veterans Dental Program

  8. Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) and Health Care for Reentry Veterans (HCRV) Programs

  9. Community Resource and Referral Centers (CRRCs)

  10. VA Vet Centers

With all of the programs available to be of aid to veterans, even we can be of aid to them, may it be through volunteering, through donation, or even just by informing them about the existence of such programs. Moreover, the path to ending homelessness is never just a few programs’ responsibility as each of us should lend a helping hand to each other in the first place, what more to our unsung heroes who had been fighting for our peace.

The movement towards the goal of ending homelessness is a collective effort worthy of our cooperation as the number of homeless veterans fluctuate each year, and all it takes at times is a single phone call to one of the many organizations that offer one of the aforementioned programs to contribute.

If you ask whether the programs really work or not, one good news would be that in the year 2018, the number of veterans without proper housing was said to have actually decreased by over 5%, and this is most likely due to the continued commitment from local, state, and federal authorities!

Meanwhile, it was said that there were even some states that have already announced an end to such problem, in which there were a total of 3 states and 78 communities in the US that have done so. As of September 2019, some of the communities among the ever-expanding list was said to include Las Vegas (Nevada), Miami-Dade County (Florida), Norman (Oklahoma), Little Rock (Arkansas), and Riverside (California).

Hence, it is never too late to start reaching out a helping hand now rather than never and to further speed up the rate in eradicating homelessness in our communities as the tiniest efforts by many people can easily snowball into the best blessings for those in need.

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