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Homeless Veterans Fastest Growing Segment Is Female Veterans

homeless female

By Debbie Gregory.

When most people picture a veteran, it’s a male. And the same holds true for homeless veterans. But the truth is that the Department of Veterans Affairs has found that female veterans, including those with children, are the fastest-growing share of homeless veterans.

Female veterans are two to four times as likely as their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness.

Most of these women, especially those with kids or histories of trauma, don’t sleep on the streets or find shelter placements. They prefer to couch-surf with friends and relatives, which more often than not, leaves them left out of the homeless count.

Far from being a well-understood phenomenon, most people would be hard-pressed to even include women veterans in the overall picture of veteran homelessness — or recognize their unique risk factors and survival strategies.

Many homeless women veterans were victims of military sexual trauma and feel resentment towards the military and the VA, and as a result do not identify themselves as being a veteran.

According to VA’s National Center for PTSD, data from VA’s military sexual trauma screening program show that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men respond “yes,” that they experienced sexual trauma or assault while in the military.

Female homeless veterans are nothing like their male veteran counterparts in how and why they experience homelessness. Sadly, women veterans are frequently left out of the picture, intentionally or otherwise. One woman veteran in the series described it as “always being an afterthought,” whenever veterans issues are discussed.

Social health is more important to a woman’s healing process than it is to a man’s. The VA is realizing that and tailoring treatments as necessary.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Grand Jury Report on $5 Million Program for Homeless Veterans

homeless vet in la

By Debbie Gregory.

You would think that $5-million would go a long way to end veteran homelessness in Los Angeles. But despite the funding, a program to get homeless veterans off the streets has only helped 268 veterans over an 18 month period, according to a recent Los Angeles County grand jury report.

In Los Angeles, veterans comprise a little over 3% of the general population, but make up about 11% of the homeless population.  Transition from military to civilian life, sometimes complicated by service related disabilities, may make it difficult for veterans to find housing.

Homes for Heroes, a county program funded by the federal government, provides interim shelter to veterans and pays for move-in costs and minor repairs for landlords who agree to rent to ex-service members. But the grand jury’s report expressed concern about Homes for Heroes’ administrative costs. And the report also found that in the 18 months from January 2016 to June 2017, the program helped more property owners (363) than it did veterans.

Phil Ansell, the director of L.A. County’s homeless initiative said the grand jury’s information was out of date, and that further progress has been made, although “more certainly remains to be done,” he said.

While Southern California has made progress over the years, the area continues to lead the nation in veteran homelessness, with 4,800 living on streets and riverbed, according to the report.

Mayor Eric Garcetti had made a pledge to end veteran homelessness a signature of his administration.

Another impediment is that much of the housing that accepts veteran rent vouchers is for men only. This leaves their family members and female veterans to find shelter elsewhere.

However, Los Angeles is making progress in cutting into veteran homelessness, said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a Washington nonprofit.

“It cut unsheltered homelessness 43% and veteran homelessness overall 41% in a year, which is unheard of,” she said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Moving in the Right Direction to Reduce Veteran Homelessness

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By Debbie Gregory.

Veterans are homeless for different reasons and have different needs, but one thing that every homeless veteran needs is a home. Because of veterans’ military service, this population is at higher risk of experiencing traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), both of which have been found to be among the most substantial risk factors for homelessness

No veteran should be without a place to call home. Those who have risked their lives for our freedom should not come home and be forced to sleep on the streets.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010. Much of the success can be attributed in part to the effectiveness of the HUD-VASH Program.

Although that is a great statistic, as of January of this year, there were still approximately 13,000 homeless veterans living on the streets, with about 50% of those living in just two states: California and Florida.

Homeless veterans  or veterans at imminent risk of becoming homeless can call or visit their local VA Medical Center or Community Resource and Referral Center where VA staff are ready to help.

Veterans and their families may also call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to access VA services.

Explore va.gov/homeless to learn about VA programs for veterans who are homeless and share that information with others.

Additionally, CalVet is addressing California’s veteran homelessness by working with various government and non-government agencies and organizations, throughout the state, to provide advocacy and services needed by veterans who are homeless or at risk. To find housing assistance programs available in the area, call (800) 952-5626 or (800) 221-8998 (outside California).

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

VA Budget for 2017 Addresses Increased Care and Benefits for Veterans

va

By Debbie Gregory.

The 2017 VA budget will continue to support the largest transformation in VA history, expanding access to healthcare and benefits, while attempting to end homelessness among those who have served.

The budget includes $78.7 billion in discretionary funding, which is earmarked largely for healthcare, which is almost 5 percent more than the 2016 enacted level.

Healthcare is being provided to over 922,000 veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn/Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS).

The budget provides for continued implementation of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) robust Transformation Plan, which will continue to improve the quality and efficiency of claims processing. Additionally, the budget supports increasing the VBA’s workforce to address staffing needs so it can continue to improve the delivery of benefits to veterans.

As VBA continues to receive and complete more disability compensation rating claims, the volume of non-rating claims correspondingly increases. The request for $54 million for 300 additional full-time equivalent employees (FTE) and claims processing support will allow VBA to provide more timely actions on non-rating claims.

The budget also proposes a simplified appeals initiative to provide veterans with a simple, fair, and streamlined appeals process in which they would receive a final appeals decision within one year from filing an appeal, by 2021. The current appeals process is complicated and ineffective, and veterans are waiting, on average, about 5 years for a final decision on an appeal that reaches the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, with thousands waiting much longer.

The Obama Administration has made the ending of veteran homelessness a national priority. The new budget requests $1.6 billion for programs to prevent or reduce veteran homelessness, including: Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) to promote housing stability; the HUD-VASH program, wherein VA provides case management services for at-risk veterans and their families, and HUD provides permanent housing through its Housing Choice Voucher program; and grants/per diem payments that support temporary housing provided by community-based organizations.

The budget also provides for the MyVA initiative, the Veterans Choice Act and other key services for veterans.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Step Up to End Vet Homelessness

Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

By Debbie Gregory.

To demonstrate their commitment to veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America (BPO Elks) announced that it has committed $4 million, over a 4-year period, to help end Veteran homelessness.

While the organization is committed to the mission, “So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them,” the Elks’ Veterans Service Commission, established in 1946, takes that pledge one step further. In VA clinics, veterans’ homes, USOs, homeless shelters and more, thousands of Elks volunteers give generously of their time, energy and resources to serve veterans and military members each year. Just this year alone, approximately 1,300 Elks members volunteered more than 117,000 hours of service at VA facilities nationwide.

Now, in their quest to end veteran homelessness, the Elks have joined forces with the Veterans Administration (VA) to launch pilot programs in Washington DC, Chicago and New York City. In addition, the organization is calling on the group’s 800,000 members across the country to support efforts to support homeless Veterans in their communities. In this fiscal year alone, approximately 1,300 Elks members volunteered more than 117,000 hours of service at VA facilities nationwide.

“We’re so excited about partnering with the Elks on this important issue impacting far too many Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald.  “As we move closer to our goal of ending Veteran homelessness, partnerships like these will be critical to ensuring that all Veterans have access to safe and affordable housing.”

“Our goal is to provide the tools and support necessary for homeless Veterans to transition successfully into healthier and more stable lives,” said Mary Morgan, Director of the Elks National Veterans Service Commission. “Most Americans agree that Veteran homelessness should not exist, but few people know how they can help.”

Many Elks lodges partner with a local VA Medical Center or Stand Down organization to give homeless vets a place to receive food, clothing, hygiene supplies, medical checkups and counseling.

Elks provide school supplies for veterans’ children, and help families with car repairs, employment searches and job training. Additional Elks projects include: ramps and stair lifts, rental and utility assistance, backpacks of survival gear for homeless vets, dental services, bus passes and laptop computers to disabled vets.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: New Battle of New Orleans: Veteran Homelessness

HomelessVeteran

By Debbie Gregory.

In a January 7th press release, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared that his city has ended homelessness among its Veterans. The statement touted the city, nicknamed “The Big Easy” as the first major city in the nation to end Veteran homelessness.

The mayor, his administration and the claim instantly drew criticism from people both in and outside of New Orleans. Some were quick to point out that both Phoenix and Salt Lake City have already claimed an end to Veteran homelessness in their cities. Other critics were eager to find any and all homeless people in New Orleans to ascertain if any of them were Veterans living on the streets.

But while critics were quick to jump to conclusions, the most important thing to keep in mind is what Mayor Landrieu and his city were able to accomplish.

Last year, First Lady Michelle Obama challenged mayors throughout the U.S. to make a commitment to end homelessness among America’s Veterans by the end of 2015. So far, 312 mayors, six governors, and 71 other county and city officials from across the United States have accepted the first lady’s challenge. Mayor Landrieu was among them.

In early 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted its annual National Point in Time Survey of Homelessness. At that time, the survey identified 193 homeless Veterans combined in the parishes of Orleans and Jefferson. The Landrieu administration coordinated with local nonprofit organizations, homeless service providers, active duty service members, Veterans, and federal, state and local agencies. Their goal was to provide housing for all homeless Veterans. Ultimately, the city and its alliance managed to provide housing for 227 homeless Veterans.

This is truly a remarkable and commendable feat that New Orleans accomplished. This should be celebrated and emulated around the nation. Critics can dig up whatever nay-saying they want, but Landrieu accomplished what Mrs. Obama’s challenge was intended to do; provide a tremendous amount of local support for homeless Veterans.

One thing that both Mayor Landrieu and his critics do agree on, whether the claim is accurate or not, is that combating Veteran homeless is not a battle one simply wins and stops fighting. It will be an ongoing campaign that will take on-going commitment and resources.

It is our hope that elected officials and community leaders all across our country will take up the fight against Veteran homelessness. The men and women who put all of their best efforts into this battle should be proud, and they have the right to brag about their accomplishments.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: New Battle of New Orleans: Veteran Homelessness: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Veteran Homelessness Down: By Debbie Gregory

Veterans helping veteransThe U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as the U.S. Inter-agency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently issued a new national estimate of Veteran homelessness. Using data collected during the annual Point-in-Time Count, conducted in January, 2014, revealed that there were 49,933 homeless Veterans in America. This year’s number shows a 33% decline since 2010, when there were 74,770 Veterans reportedly living on the streets.

The VA, HUD, and USICH, as well as other local partners, have used evidenced-based practices like Housing First and federal resources such as HUD-VASH (the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher program) to find stable housing for Homeless Veterans. Since 2008, the HUD-VASH program has assisted 74,019 homeless Veterans, and Veteran families who were in danger of becoming homeless.

The federal government has provided significant new resources to help communities pursue the goal of ending homelessness among Veterans. Strategically targeting these resources is resulting in communities making significant progress towards ending Veteran homelessness.

The federal government has created a goal to end Veteran homelessness by 2015. There are several policies and programs that are currently geared towards reaching the goal.

Using a Housing First approach and eliminating unnecessary prerequisites, the federal government has made progress in removing barriers and helping Veterans obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible. The government’s programs have found success through prioritizing the most vulnerable Veterans, especially Veterans experiencing chronic homelessness, for permanent supportive housing opportunities.

The utilization of rehousing interventions, including those made possible through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, has aided Veterans who need short-term assistance to reintegrate back into our communities.

Government programs have also found success by increasing early detection efforts, and providing Veterans with greater access to preventive services. They have also been leveraging other housing resources that can help Veterans who are ineligible for some of the VA’s programs get into stable housing.

By closely monitoring their progress, and remaining committed to their goal, it is reasonable to believe that Veteran Homelessness could be eradicated in 2015. But it can only happen through continued government efforts and the support of the American people.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Veteran Homelessness Down: By Debbie Gregory