When ‘zero’ is possible: How one state and two cities ended Veteran homelessness


This article originally appeared on www.NeighborWorks.org.

More than 20 cities and states across the country have declared an end to Veteran homelessness. In compliance with federal guidelines, they have moved every identified Veteran who is in need and is willing to accept help into permanent housing. And, with more than 850 state, city and county leaders on record as accepting First Lady Michelle Obama’s challenge to end Veteran homelessness, more communities are expected to make similar announcements in the coming weeks and months.

How are they doing it? To see what’s working, we spoke to officials from Virginia, New Orleans and Houston, each of which recently reached this milestone. Although their situations are unique, many common approaches stand out. For instance, efforts in all three jurisdictions were jump-started following local officials’ attendance at a series of homeless Veteran “rapid-results boot camps” held around the country in 2012 and 2013. Other common ingredients of success include goal-setting and coordination of resources, systems and people.

Top-level leadership and coordination are key   

Matt Leslie beamed with pride when Gov. Terry McAuliffe took to the podium on Veterans Day 2015 and proclaimed Virginia had housed 1,432 homeless Veterans since the previous October—becoming the first state to systemically end Veteran homelessness.

For Leslie, it affirmed the role his office played, with visible backing from the governor, in coordinating people and resources—from the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to state agencies, to the private sector.

“What we did is make sure the local continuums of care [CoCs] and VA worked together,” Leslie says. HUD’s CoCs are local and regional planning bodies that coordinate housing and homeless funding and services.

One notable outcome was a formal agreement to combine service delivery to Veterans in the sprawling Hampton Roads area of the state. Now Veterans were able to access all of the region’s seven public housing authorities and VA services from one place, without having to travel to multiple government offices.

This cooperation led to greater state-wide awareness of the number of Veterans served, how they were being served and which resources were going where. This revealed gaps in federal funding coverage, spurring the state to kick in $500,000 for rapid rehousing prevention and housing resource specialists. Dominion Virginia Power also donated $2.5 million over five years for electricity assistance for newly housed Veterans. Community-level support for additional housing vouchers, move-in essentials and landlord engagement went up.
veteran-homeless1                                            The first step in serving the homeless is to know who and where they are.

Collaboration was formalized through the Governor’s Coordinating Council on Homelessness, which mirrored the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness. In May 2014, all parties gathered at a statewide homeless veterans summit to draft an action plan.

“The three key components of the commonwealth action plan,” Leslie said, “were targeting the right resources to the right Veteran, specifically with HUD-VA supportive housing vouchers and services; formalizing coordination among the various parties; and using data to drive our approach. That really set the stage for all of the work in Virginia. We greatly improved service delivery and dramatically lowered barriers to care.”

Although commonwealth officials are proud to have ended Veteran homelessness, “we view it as a milestone and not the end,” Leslie said, adding that the state must maintain the capacity to house an average of about 130 Veterans per month. “The reality is that homeless Veterans who need housing or other services come in or are identified regularly.”

Progress must be sustainable

In New Orleans, which became the first city to functionally end Veteran homelessness on January 2, 2015, the watchword is “sustainable,” says Martha J. Kegel, executive director of UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a 60-agency homelessness collaborative.

“Somehow in the crush to get to zero, you have to make time to discuss how you’re going to stay at zero. As proud as we are to be the first city to reach this milestone,” she says, “we’re even prouder we’ve maintained it in the last 14 months.”
veteran-homeless4                                                            Services are best when they are offered all in one place.

This, she says, is the work that must go on outside the limelight of pursuing a high-profile goal—spending late nights to identify the Veterans who enter the shelter system and early mornings to identify permanent housing for them. Although the parties agreed to house every Veteran within 30 days, it hasn’t been an easy target to reach, adds Garry LaBorde, assistant chief of mental health for the VA’s Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. He says the team met face to face every week to drill down to see what part of the process individual Veterans were in.  That helped identify very quickly what the barriers were.

“Here’s the thing that people need to understand,” explains Kegel. “Once you’ve housed all of the Veterans on your master list today, it doesn’t mean a Veteran won’t become homeless tomorrow. We’ve maintained ‘functional zero’ because of our eternal vigilance and intense commitment to quickly house any Veteran who becomes homeless because of disability or poverty.”

Since reaching functional zero in January, VA’s collaborative with UNITY and the city of New Orleans has permanently housed an additional 191 homeless Veterans. The average length of time to house each Veteran is 27 days.

Make it systematic

Officials in Houston, which has a Veteran population of roughly 330,000, reached functional zero in June. Mandy Chapman Semple, special assistant to the mayor for homeless initiatives, cites three essential ingredients to their success: identification of all permanent housing options, strong supportive services to keep newly housed Veterans in housing and a coordinated method to find and serve all future Veterans in need.

Starting in 2012, the city and its VA and community partners initiated the following four-part process:

  1. One-stop services. Everyone involved in the HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) process comes together. At a single location, chronically homeless Veterans are triaged, assessed, enrolled with the VA and connected to a housing unit—all in one day.
  2. Triage. Using a standardized targeting system, Veterans are assessed for eligibility for HUD-VASH and SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families).
  3. Identification. Once the initial intake is complete, the remaining Veterans in need must be identified, with a goal of 100 percent.
  4. Stabilization. Houston prepared for “steady state” by using a single, coordinated access system across the CoC to connect homeless Veterans to housing, regardless of where they were in the system.

Guided by this approach, Houston has housed more than 3,500 Veterans since January 2012, and Chapman Semple says the system is prepared to serve the roughly 900 to 1,000 Veterans expected to experience housing instability or homelessness each year.

“Only when you set a high goal and actually reach it, do you realize what’s possible,” says Laura Marsh, MD, mental health care line executive at VA’s Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.

For more information:

This article originally appeared on www.NeighborWorks.org.

LoveAnthony Love is the director of community engagement for the Veterans Health Administration Homeless Programs. He has a long career dedicated to ending homelessness.


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  1. Kimberly Heintzelman    

    Las Vegas has also joined that list of Functional Zero. The teams here are amazing and continue to sustain the end to veterans homelessness. Great Job Las Vegas!!!!

    1. Bradley Hannah    

      I was homeless for a bit and I contacted the VA was on the list at one point I was contacted by the VA and told to contact the VA rep at Community Action for homeless because they had a place for me. When I contacted Community Action the homeless rep was pissed that I found out about my being next she told me there wasnt any places and she didnt know what I was talking about. They inspected what I was living in and Community Action wouldnt come in too many bugs for them. So I remained on the street for several more months. This all happened in Washington state at the Skagit Valley Community action. It turns out that the rep was discriminating me and gave the house to some one else while I remained on the street. I have recovered enough now have a place to live at the moment.

    2. Annette Knox    

      Is Vegas where I heard they have taken sea containers and turned them into housing? That has been done here in west Texas for the oil field workers because of lack of housing

    3. Don Iddings    

      VA is ‘cooking’ the books again! As a retired VBA employee with over 35 years of dealing with veterans, I personally know it is mathematically impossible to have zero homeless veterans. Who ever is saying this is either naive or “lying”, you figure out which you believe. Granted the VA has spent $100s of millions of dollars over the years, but ‘zero’ homeless veterans, give me a break. There an old adage…If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Our veterans need all the help possible from VA. However, veterans must first want to help themselves. A social worker is not going to change a veteran’s behavior. Our veterans do deserve the best treatment possible. For some, it’s a personal choice.

      1. Robert Burke    

        I think the key phrase in this article was that every homeless Veteran identified and willing to accept help has been placed in housing. That doesn’t mean all homeless Veterans have been housed. “Functional Zero” to me means that all those willing to accept help have received help. There is not much you can do for somebody who refuses what is offered other than keep offering. I was assisted by this program, and it works very well.

      2. David Mahan    

        Exactly what you said… “the veteran must first want to help themselves”. I can’t help but wonder on so many of these posts, of vets that are getting no help, how diligent they were in seeking the help, keeping the appointments, and not just making a phone call, but actually going to the VA and having a caseworker assist them. EVERYDAY, if they have to! From my experience, the VA will help you as much as they can, but you also have to be hands-on in the process. I believe there is much more information that is left out, in reading some of these situations, and people are not being accountable, and just blaming others.

    4. georgette    

      PTSD/SUD Incarcerated Veterans. You guys..realize that…a lot of you are in jail? No hope. DA says u are a danger to society…and won’t post bond. Because Veteran?

    5. Mack McCurry    

      While all this was going on the city of Kenton,Ohio was tearing down my house. I’m a Disabled Vet and got no help from anyone and yes I called everyone even my state senator but no help.

      1. David Mahan    

        Stop “calling everyone”, and go down there and present your needs to them, face to face. It’s much easier to “dismiss” a phone call, then to “dismiss” someone’s needs when they are present, and they are dealing with a real person, so to speak. From my experience, they receive 100’s of phone calls a day, but the one’s they address first, are the ones who are there, present, everyday, fighting for what they need, one on one. Not saying this is fair…or right, I’m simply making a suggestion to those who are seeking benefits that they are entitled to, and getting pushed aside….. is all.

  2. John j Carpenetti    

    I work with a non-profit SSVF program and we need more access to funds to keep veteran who have fallen behind on rent.

  3. Ray Carter    

    There is no way they have put an “end” to the homeless Veteran problem in these two states. There are falsely accused Veterans that went through nasty child custody battles of inappropriate touching, exposures from relieving themselves in public although no one saw and others who are condemned to life on that sex offender registry that HUDVASH nor any other problem can help through the VA.

    So this article may be somewhat true, it’s not a complete picture of the whole of the homeless Veteran program/problem. I’ve lived in Nashville, Louisville and now Columbia and the VA will help Veterans on the registry but when it comes to “permanent housing”, that is not an option. Some of the Homeless Veterans have prior convictions and again some are covicted of sex crimes. So to say “all” Homeless Veterans have been assisted is a misprint. Just my 2 cents.

    1. Neici B    

      Does not say anywhere in this article that “all” homeless veterans have been assisted. No misprint when it comes to that; just my 2 pennies.

      1. Robin Bastin    

        All veterans that are “willing” are housed. Now, that is not to say that some who are “willing” have not fallen through the cracks. I think that this is a positive step in the right direction. Just be happy that our vets are finally getting help.

        1. David Mahan    

          “willing”…. exactly. Many vets who choose to continue their drinking, and drugging, will remain homeless, because one of the criterias of getting this help, is not allowing that behavior, as well as getting into a treatment program. The VA will not enable this behavior, or keep someone in these programs who shows they are continuing this behavior. There are too many others, who are on waiting lists, needing and wanting this help. So yes, there are many vets who are not “willing”, or who chose to continue their self destructive behavior, and there is nothing the VA can do for them. It’s their choice.

  4. Randy J. McDowell    

    I am a disabled Veteran who is about to become homeless and I’ve written, called everywhere and everyone, but every one I’ve written or called just sends me to other places, which also sends me to other places… I’m at my wits end here……..

    1. Lisa Hughes    

      I learned the hard way that you have to be homeless – living on the streets, under a bridge or in a car before you qualify for the HUDVASH program. I tried to get assistance before I ended up on the streets, but no one would help. Due to having bad credit and previous broken leases I couldn’t get anyone to rent to me that was in a safe neighborhood for my family.

  5. Mary Vincent    

    How do I get in with this homeless vets program, I’m a 55 year old women haven’t worked in over ten years. I’m on SSI disability, with all medical problems not sure if I could work, before SSI I couldn’t hold down a job for more then six months because of medical problems. My medical problems WILL NEVER GET BETTER. I’ve applied for any and all programs that listed, most say I don’t qualify all others say I earn to much with the SSI yet can’t afford a place to live. Someone is going to have to sit down with me and explain this to me as if I were a five year old. So please I need help PLEASE. One thing the VA is one of those programs that denied me and you all brag about how your helping ALL veterans

    1. steven struman    

      I really sympithise with here. My wife and I had the same problems 5 years ago. In Orange county CA I lost my job, wife retired because she couldn’t work at here profession any more, got behind on the rent so the friendly landlord wasn’t so friendly anymore. Called the VA who reffered me to a social service who referred me to the salvation army who said finally they would pay one month and thats it. 6 months later were finally told we make too much in social security and the VA disability.If you know Orange County you know there are more and more people and families living in their cars now due to high rents. Even Motels cost lot per week. Lucky my sister let us live with her until her house sold, so we ended up in another state where your background check meant they were willing to work with you. Found rent to be half the price than back home. Now Im telling this because we are not disabled or infirmed, we are healthy and we both can be productive. That does not matter to landlords in SOCAL and you can’t get help if you really need it.

      1. David Mahan    

        UGH…..Another victim! You get SS and VA disability, but it’s not enough to live in Southern CA, but enough to live elsewhere. Well you just have to adjust your lifestyle to your income, as just about every retired person…or not retired person, has to. Don’t blame your landlord, because you could no longer afford the rent. He is your landlord first, and your friendship has nothing to do with that part of your relationship. He owes you nothing! I use to live in San Diego, when I made more money, but I can’t afford to live there now, so I moved. I use to own a house, but now I rent, because my income was reduced. You now live where your income allows you to live, and you now live where you are able to find work,…..so why are you complaining!? There are many places that I would love to live, but I just can’t afford to live there, and/ or I don’t want to work that hard to live there. Welcome to life. Sure I should have saved, or prepared better, but I didn’t. We all make our own choices in life, and we should all be accountable for those choices, and not blame others. Appreciate what you DO have, because there are many others who are so much less fortunate.

    2. Priscilla Hall    

      Try 1-877-4AIDVET…that is the number listed in the above article.

  6. Paul Coleman    

    The various cities and states did a great thing to help homeless Veterans.

    Unfortunately the Department of Veteran’ Affrairs would have preferred that the Vets stayed homeless and died very soon so they would not have to pay the benefits or provide health care.

    1. Veteran Advocate    

      Well, they have to pay the Unions bud. Every doctor that I have been to in the VA has said that the biggest problem at the VA and why it is falling apart is the Unions. Has anyone here read those articles about how they were going to try and merge the Military health with the VA? The military personal hated working with the VA because of the Unionized workers poor work ethic and laziness.

  7. richard piszczek    

    As part of the HUD/VASH program,I do not have the words that will express what it means to have a place to lay my head instead of a tent, every night. This program really works an it is an example of what can be accomplished when local, state, and the federal government put their heads together and think things through, making sure all the what if’s are answered before hand.

  8. Not A Spammer    

    Where did the money come from?

  9. Melanie Clark    

    I have a serious question. There is something I don’t understand.
    Why are so many veterans homeless?
    I am a veteran and I have never been homeless.
    Neither do I know any homeless veterans.
    I am not being critical here. Nor sarcastic.
    I love my brothers and sisters in arms.
    Please help me understand.
    why are so many homeless? And jobless?

    1. Charles Byrd    

      There are a number of reason why veterans are homeless and I am writing a term paper on the subject matter. You can pull up a number of articles from on line and you can go to any shelter and ask veterans why they are homeless. Veterans are just like anyone else but there are many differences. Many of them are suffering from PTSD, poor support groups upon returning from war and a high usage of drugs and alcohol. Veterans homelessness can come from the area that they live in the rent can be to high and they can not afford the cost of living. There is over 166,000 veterans who are homeless nightly and that doesn’t include their family members. Our hero deserve better from our country and those whom we, serve. I all most become homeless this year and the help I receive, from others was a blessing.

    2. David Mahan    

      You raise a very serious question that nobody seems to ask! I too am a veteran, who thinks about this every time I hear or read about “homeless veterans”. My feeling is that the media, and the government, focuses much more on the “issues” of a veteran, more so than someone who is not. I think that the thinking is more favorable towards someone who has served his country, than someone who has not, and that a veteran deserves more help for doing so, than someone who has not. I also have to agree with this. This is why I feel that we always hear about this issue. As to the why… I think that many young men and women begin there adult life in a very structured environment, during the critical years of learning to take care of themselves on their own. Coping skills. The veteran in many cases never learns or develops the skills needed, because they are done by someone else. Once the veteran is removed from that structured environment, they just don’t know how to live on there own, and make the right choices, because their choices were always made for them. I hate to use this similarity, but it quite like a person who goes to prison for years, gets out, and ends up right back in. We become accustomed to a certain environment, and conditioning, and when we loose that “crutch”, we simply don’t know how to live without it. The prison will certainly take back the felon, where on many levels he/ she feels more comfortable, as well as being able to function in a “normal” way, however, unlike the prison, the military will not take back the veteran, so he is made to wonder aimlessly in his/ her life, until, when in many cases, will wind up in a prison, which as a structured environment, will feel more “comfortable” to him or her. To sum it up, many veterans are only capable of living in a structured environment. Many veterans get out and have the capabilities and strength to make this adjustment, which from my own experience, was not easy, however, many veterans do not, thus all the homeless veterans who wind up on the streets, and in more cases than not, in our hospitals, jails and prisons. In no way, am I implying the fault of the military! I loved being in the Navy, and will always treasure them as the best years of my life. The government has been good to me as a veteran, and I appreciate all of it. This is just my feelings on the situation, and it’s very sad indeed!

    3. Grace Baber    

      Homelessness can be caused by so many factors such as underemployment/unemployment, ongoing medical issues, mental health issues, child support arrearage which can cause loss of drivers’ license to get to work/child(ren) visitation.

      Let’s say you’re a vet dealing with PTSD and breast/prostate cancer going through a nasty custody divorce with a pending VA disability rating. You get a job or two or three but you’ve got to take time off to go to the VA for PTSD therapy as well as cancer treatments. Plus, besides asking your new employer for time off, you’re getting hit with child support garnishment since the judge doesn’t deem you unable to work because YOUR FILE IS STILL PROCESSING THROUGH THE VA. Then, because you are in arrears, you lose your drivers’ license and are further hampered from securing/maintaining employment and/or getting to your VA appointments.

      This is only one scenario but I hope that it helps answer your questions.

      Thanks for asking 🙂

      1. David Mahan    

        Look..I get it, and feel for you, however, it seems to me that many of your problems rotate around your lack of prioritizing, and communication. Seek employment at times that would not infringe on your time at therapy, or health related appointments for now, and hopefully, this can be readjusted with improvement to your health, as well as the finalization of your claim. If this is not possible, go to your nearest VA, explain your situation, and seek temporary, or permanent shelter through them.

        As far as “child support”, you will get no sympathy from me. You made the choice to have unprotected sex, or have a child…or two. Now it’s your obligation to take care of that child (s).

        If a doctor deems you unable to work, you can take that to the judge, and the judge will have to abide by the doctor’s report, and at least “suspend” child support, or lower it, based on whatever income you have.

        I suspect, much missing information here.

    4. steven struman    

      There but by the grace of god go you. PTSD, NO Place will hire you, High rents, No transportation, Age discrimination, and a generation or two who play video games where the hero always comes out ok, people who don’t know whats it like to be in combat, no skills, and a military that keeps shrinking. You may be fine but there are at least two others who aren’t. Don’t be so skeptical, This is a national problem.

      1. David Mahan    

        “You may be fine, but there are two others who aren’t”. You are implying that you are seeking work, and telling them you have PTSD, so you are not hired. Why on earth would you give this information. If you have PTSD, and you can’t work, then why are you working?? Get help! How does a shrinking military, or video games effect your goals, and ambition. It’s not that I’m “skeptical”, I’m just so tired of hearing excuses from people, and blaming others for THEIR problems. Go to school, and get some skills. Here’s the thing… you take whatever you have, or don’t have, figure out what the possible solutions are, and WORK for those goals. We all have different “barriers” that we must get through, but to just complain about them, and play the victim, will go you no further than you already are. Simple as that! If I’m fine, and there are two others who are not….well, I would love to see how much time and effort the three of us us put into getting help, putting in the work and time, and making changes. Then come back to me. You can either be part of your own problem, or part of your own solution. Your choice!

    5. Butch Cassidy    

      One answer: They just got tired. Another answer: They gave up. Another answer: There are as many reasons as there are homeless vets. Good luck looking for a rational answer in an irrational world.

    6. Walter Kayden    

      When our supposed American companies send jobs over seas they are being so greedy and it leaves so many people here without jobs, the homeless are every where and none of the conservatives care

    7. Cyberats    

      Permanent physical disabilities that do not improve and the best you can do is live with them.
      In a country where most jobs are outsourced overseas or to illegal immigrants, good luck finding a job that does not require hard physical labor and pays more than minimum wages. I am skilled, I have a bachelor’s degree in science, I am scraping by with $1000/mon. in disability pay no SSI. I might just end up on skid row real soon, as I will lose my vehicle and be unable to pay for travel expenses or be really locked in the apt. for prolonged times. Other veterans are not awarded anything or nowhere close that I have. Some maybe criminals not all are innocent, some are victims of the crooked Christian Church Court System (marriage). Some with PTSD will never be hired.
      Hope this answers your question.

      1. Bert Walker    

        Why don’t more VA centers have bivouac ‘rally points’, where vets in the lurch can go and throw down a bedroll? With enough hands you can set up a GP large, cots, fix old MKT’s, get port-a-potties lined up, and have other tentage where public services can be set up, and even a field clinic. Basically, batallion/brigade service areas, minus uniforms. If you have nothing else, get thee hence to a VA center, and presto, no more ‘homeless vet’. Hot meal, counseling, treatment as needed, and no harassment from the authorities or members of the community etc.

    8. Lawrence R. Post    

      In my case I’ve had a TBI since I got out in 85. VA let me have 30% Service Connected. They have refused to raise it, in fact they refuse to even find records from Kansas City VA in 85. They are lieing theiving bastards. Give up my dogs, sorry no deal.I’ll stay where I am.

    9. Josie B.    

      There are a few reasons why Vets end up homeless/jobless.
      1) It could depend on when they were discharged (which era they belong to). Pre-911 vets literally have a harder time getting the VA benies they deserve. You have to understand that things were different back then. Disabilities like PTSD, and sleep apnea–to name a few, were rarely recognized/diagnosed. Disability was harder to get. People had an easier time getting disability when they were boarded out of service, as opposed to just separating; although I do know a guy that got boarded out in 1994, only to get 0% for the ailment that he got kicked out for. Now, old school vets are trying to get service connection and compensation for ailments that occurred (and were documented) in service, but they are being denied right and left because they’ve been out more than a year.
      2) The ins and outs of the disability system were not taught/briefed as intricately as it is taught now in TAP classes, etc. TAP/ACAP, etc mostly briefed employment information back then..how to get a job once you got out. People separated not even knowing they were eligible for compensation, or that they could use VA for healthcare. Ask me how I know. Now, in present day military, even E1’s know to get any/everything documented in their service medical records to prep for that disability and service connection they are due.
      3) When something unexpected occurs in your life (you lose a job, get divorced, wreck your car, get hit with child support, etc), you can’t make ends meet. Or in my case, got diagnosed later in life with PTSD, then I lost a job. I could barely leave my house because of panic attacks, and suffer from anxiety/depression. I’ve been teetering on the verge of homelessness for more than a year, but can’t get help because I’m not on the street. And organizations like Operation Homefront won’t help because I have no disability or steady income. Well, I’m stuck in the VA Appeal line like many other vets, fighting for basic service connection for documented disabilities.
      That’s how people end up homeless. Think about it. Once you’re homeless, you get depressed, stressed, etc. You are more likely than not at that point to lose your job too.

      1. David Mahan    

        Good luck, and don’t give up fighting. Take time EVERYDAY, to call, GO DOWN, or write, to see what else you can do, or just monitor the status. Make them all know who YOU are!!! Another hint here… NEVER say you are not homeless, or “almost” homeless. If they ask where you slept last night, tell them you slept in someone’s garage, and you’re not sure where you are sleeping tonight.. Bet you anything, you will move to the front!! (just from my own experience).

  10. Carrie snell    

    Sure wish they would do this for me and my child, my HUD/Vash rep said we needed to stay in a homeless shelter and couldn’t help us….

  11. Tommy Allen Bird    

    I am in one of the lesser effective programs in the US, Oregon VA. Anyway that is what I’ve been told by many people. However, a sympathetic doctor and an effective social worker seems to have gotten me everything I need and then some… except for housing. Big problems there!

    Oregon is infested with Californian real estate developers and greedy landlords. Low income housing takes forever to get into. And rents are higher than veterans on disability can readily afford. I am 83 and have early stages of dementia. I survive in a retirement home. The place is beautiful and out in a semi rural setting. My social worker is still working to find me an affordable apartment.

    My suggestion is to start looking for a doctor and a social worker that will help you. When you find them, treat them like they are gold. To you, they are


    1. David Mahan    

      This post will win me no “brownie points”, but as a veteran, and one that now works for The VA, as a civilian, I have to express my own experience on the subject of PTSD. It’s only been 20 years or so that the VA has acknowledged and recognized the systems, diagnosis, and treatments of PTSD, as it relates to veterans. It’s very real for many vets who regrettably suffer from this debilitating mental illness, in some cases, for the remainder of their life. Unfortunately, many veterans are very aware of the fact that they can do their enlistment in the service, get out, and “claim” to have PTSD, knowing they will receive a monthly check for the rest of their life. PTSD, like any mental illness, is not an exact science. We have to trust what the vet is saying, feeling, seeing, and perform a diagnosis based on that. There is no exact “test” that can be given, to make this diagnosis. I have encountered numerous “vets” who have served less than 1 year, and as little as a week or so, who for one reason or another are given a “release” from their enlistment, however since they have served in the military for I day, they are deemed a veteran. They file a claim for PTSD, and they get it! Many of these vets, who put these claims in, simply do not want to work, collect a check, get their housing paid for, and feed their vices. As a veteran who served in the military for many years, it infuriates me that these “vets” receive the same benefits that I do. All veterans have become well aware of PTSD, and how it can benefit them once they have gotten discharged. Many will take advantage of this, for their own personnel benefit, and it’s very sad, because many vets do have this, and do need the help. They deserve it! Like every program, help, assistance the government offers, it becomes widely abused by many, and unfortunately, because of this abuse, and the awareness of it, it has become more difficult for the men and women who really need the help, in receiving it.
      My allegiance and loyalty will always be with my fellow vets. The camaraderie I feel with veterans is something that I will never have with others who have not served in the military. It’s a bond and recognition that only a veteran can understand. I suppose that is why I continue to still be around them, as a civilian today.

      1. Robert Burke    

        You are right, no brownie points for you. I find much of your comment to be incredibly presumptuous and based on your bitterness for what others are receiving in comparison to yourself. As you are working for the VA now, does this mean you have access to Veterans medical records and disability filings? If so I question why you would publicly dispense your opinions of information that is confidential and private. Do you just label some Veterans as lazy undeserving bums based on your own opinion or dislike for them? Are you an MD?, Phd? in a position to objectively diagnose medical problems and practice medicine? As a Veteran I find your post objectionable. As a disabled Veteran who relies on VA health services for healthcare, knowing that some of the people I must interact with while obtaining services from the VA have attitudes such as yours is very concerning.

        1. David Mahan    

          I have to respond to your feedback, and hopefully give you better clarity on my post.
          Nothing that I said was presumptuous, or based on theory. These are facts that I have witnessed firsthand. I’m glad that you are receiving the benefits that you deserve, and hopefully you did not have to “fight” for them, or wait too long in receiving them. Unfortunately, many other vets need these same benefits who also deserve them, and they are still waiting to receive them. Because of the abuse of these benefits from vets who do not deserve them, or need them, others must suffer, and that’s when I have a problem. It’s not “bitterness” I feel, its anger. You will not find anyone who will fight harder for a vet in getting the help, treatment, and benefits he deserves, more than myself. It’s actually very presumptuous, and ignorant of you to think that there are not vets who abuse these benefits, and file false claims. If you truly believe that this does not happen, then you are sadly mistaken. If you agree, that yes, there are some vets who do this, then you would have to agree with all that I’m saying, because those are the “vets” who I am talking about. As far as my opinion being a breach of confidentially, or being private, you have me a bit perplexed where I did this. My “opinions” are based on facts, and I also have that right to express them. As a vet, I served my country to hold the rights that we all have, and one of those rights is freedom of expression. Your concern should not be that you must interact with attitudes like me; your concern should be that there are not more people like myself, who are fighting for YOU! The reason I said, I would win no brownie points, is because when it comes to vets, we are not allowed to talk about the “bad apples”, or make negative comments about vets. Again, if you are trying to hurt, or take away from one of my fellow vets, we are going to have a problem, especially, if you are a vet.
          So please, don’t twist the message, and know what you are talking about, before you make presumptions about someone else. I’m very grateful for all the benefits I receive from the VA, and I hope that you are, as well. My job is to ensure that other vets, who deserve these benefits, and help, get them, and that is what I fight for everyday, and will continue to do. Many vets still need me fighting for them, and that is something I will do, as long as I can breath.

    2. Bert Walker    

      Tom: There’s real estate racketeers in all the 50 states and territories. Wherever you go, there you are, and you’ve got the usual list of suspects trying to drain your life essence. It sucks, but life doesn’t necessarily get easier after you separate from military service, unless maybe you stuck it out for the full 20. Still, a military retirement check isn’t ‘all that’, either. I think there should be what amount to economic refugee camps for vets who’ve hit the wall. If you have nothing else in this life, job, family, source of support, etc., get to the nearest VA place, and they’ll be setting up the tents.

  12. Randy Jones    

    The V A. Has not fixed any problems benefit wise are other. I have been diagnoised several times with PTSD an many other ailments even hospitalized…all the diagnosis of 5 times are more by the. V A doctors all confirming service related they refuse to service connect .All this has been going on since 11/1983 with me an they dont even accept there on Doctors decision And the DBQ shit was a joke the VA doctors refuse to fill them out….

    1. David Mahan    

      Please correct me if I’m interpreting your last post incorrectly, but are you are stating that you are being diagnosed and treated as suffering from PTSD, which was caused from your time in active duty, by the VA doctors, and these same doctors are acknowledging this diagnosis to you, but are refusing to state this in your “records”, or in writing, with your signed “release of information” to the claims board? I’m quite certain if this is the case, there is much information you are leaving out here. The doctors have an obligation of submitting these records, and their diagnosis. They do not have a choice as to submitting your records, or what information they allow into these records. The decision of a service connected claim, is primarily based on the doctor’s reports, and recommendations, as well as, the percent of said disability. To state that the doctors are stating your claim is service related, but not service connected would be a major contradiction on his own report, and intelligence, or his ability to make a proper diagnosis/ recommendation to the board. He would be made to correct this (his/her) report, or the VA would assign one of their own doctors to evaluate you, and make a correct decision. I would suggest you go to your local VA, and connect with a Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) Representative, who would help you in the process of your claim. Again, from what I’m reading , your leaving out allot of information, or not speaking the whole truth regarding your particular case, leading the reader to believe that the VA is just out to f*c* , yet another vet. Sorry, not by this reader (and vet).

      When you are denied a “settlement” on a claim, you are given specific reasons why said claim was denied, as well as the procedures for filing for an appeal, giving you the opportunity to “fix” the reasons for the denial, and bring any new/ corrected information, to the table, so to speak. From my experience, many times an initial claim is denied due to information missing, not reported, or not known to the claims board. Please understand, as well, it is the responsibility of the vet (filer) to ensure that all the necessary information is submitted. In most cases, this is “fixed” on appeal, and the vet is awarded a percentage of the claim, from 10% disabled, to 100%. Yes, this whole process is long and frustrating, but we all know how the government operates. When we need something from them, the answer is “SOON”. When they need something from us, it’s “NOW”.

      At any rate, good luck my friend, in getting what you deserve.

  13. Eddie Fast    

    That’s great that the homeless veterans have a place to call home but where did the money come from. With Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, It sounds like socialism at work. Sorry for having brought politics into this but after all the Democrat party IS socialism at it’s finest.

    1. Roy F. Wilson    

      Socialist-smocialist. It worked in Virginia. The vets are no longer homeless. That was the object, so what’s your problem? Are you so brainwashed by Fox noise, Rush Limbaugh, et al, that you can’t admit that a Democratic government can succeed at anything? Why don’t you do some research: Find the states, cities & counties that have eradicated veteran homelessness & see whether the governments are led by Republicans or Democrats.

  14. glenn noll    

    I was a homeless veteran in the past now I do have a place to live I pray for all homeless Veterans every night for GOD to keep them Safe

  15. Richard Daniel Ogden    

    I was just wondering, out of curiosity, exactly how much money would be available, to me, for housing & utility costs, if I were to come-on-board? I’m a Viet Nam Veteran, having served between the years of 1970-72, and received an Honorable Discharge, and, as of right now, one of the many Homeless Vets, residing in the High Desert of Victorville, CA. 92395.
    Thank you for your concern.
    Yous truly.

  16. Walter Kayden    

    No Veteran should ever be homeless, it is a national disgrace since the government wastes billions of dollars on contracts that are just plain useless.

  17. Paul-Stephen Varszegi    

    I thought that Connecticut was the 1st State to end Veteran homelessness and not Virginia. Does anyone have the correct answer?

  18. Ron Breen    

    WOW !! Local governments helping vets. As it should be. And I am proud of the vets and the cities and state helping them. What I despise is the Federal loser VA horning in on other entities successes in actually helping veterans. The Federal VA has a Baaadd reputation and it is well deserved. Maybe in 5-10 years of proven support to the vets (and not the GS-15’s, SES and presidential appointees selfish interests) the general population will grow some respect for the VA, after it has been earned. But, I suspect that most upper echelon VA folks assume that everyone else is stupid and to be treated like dupes ….. ROTFLMAO … the federal bureaucracy scam has run its course … you put your pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. Get your lives right, get your agency right and stop taking credit, however obscure, for the good work of others.

    1. Roy F. Wilson    

      I am a WWII & Korean War vet mildly (20%) disabled, using VA education & medical services since 1953. Their bureaucracy has often been slow, but their service providers have always been good. Your blanket condemnation of VA doesn’t match my experience.

  19. Jodi Delmer    

    I guess the key word here is veterans who are willing to accept the help. But the problem is that the help comes with the stipulation that they must give up any animal companions that are not declared service animal(s). So in order to have a place to live, they must give up the only thing that has provided them comfort during their lonely days and nights of homelessness. And the animals must lose their person as well. What kind of program is that? I know of several veterans that would rather be homeless than give up their animal(s). So this “Functional Zero” is just lip service to make some bureaucrat feel like they have done something good. But all it is, is lip service. Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back. I know I myself would elect to be homeless before I gave up my companions.

  20. Rich Herron    

    These programs sound great but cannot help the Homeless when they are not Informed about them. I was in Homeless Shelter in Columbia, SC aout 2 years ago. Representatives from VA Regional Office came by twice a week. They helped me get in the VA Health System but never Informed me that there were VA programs to help the Homeless. I found out about them from another Homeless Vet about a year later. It depends on your Color whether you were told about these programs

  21. Johnny Sullivan    

    I thank it’s a dann shame when you are trying to fill a claim. And you have a-holes setting up there in the regional office there in Waco, Texas deliberately culling out vital and important information that may or could cause an negative impact on your claims and cause them to be denied. Believe me these are the kinds of issues that I have been dealing with for years. And nobody up there in office seems to give a dann about how. These so call weren’t gonna do everthing we can. Representatives can do for those veterans that we can do to help you.Well apparently that’s all a bouncy of BS. Because if that were so for one would think that the DOJ while doing their criminal investigations. Could have come up with a more crimanly type of way to address these issues. And figured out a way to make recommendations to remedy this problem. And make recommendations to pursue these issue and the ones who are committing these acts against these American Vetrans or any others who have joined in with our forces to aid in our military support. And file charges against him for committing treasonous Acts against their own country by desiring the due process or interfering with their getting any type of benefits or treatment to them as well as their family or loved ones that they may be due.I personally feel that there should be no tolerance for their actions and that there should be no such a thing as a cloak of immunity to protect their ass or any other government officials for such a heinous injustice the meeting get anyone. And that with the help from an unbiased crimnal investigation that justice should be served. And just maybe the Veterans Administration would win back the confidence of the Vetrans as well as the American people. Oh well I would just like to say Thanks to for allowing me to share my views.

  22. Johnny Sullivan    

    Oh well so much for auto correction program’s I guess I should start double checking my spelling. To avoid such mistakes and hopefully make my writting a little more understandable. PS. Sorry about the misspellings and screw ups in my earlier coments.

    1. David Mahan    

      Yea, it was really difficult to understand exactly what you were saying. I’m still a bit confused. I think this was just too much for “auto correction” anyway.

  23. Renea Chafe    

    I will believe it when I see it (ending Veteran homelessness). I’m an Honorably Discharged U.S. Air Force Gulf War Veteran. I am treated as less than a dog. Every day and every night, the V.A. tortures me for me being a Veteran. It’s been eight years since I’ve had a hot meal, food, shelter, money, or dental benefits. I never get even a hot meal, reliable transportation, a decent job, food, shelter, money or clothing. The Veterans Administration has done absolutely everything to crush and destroy my career. The V.A. has allowed for the most mean and jealous people to elbow me out of my career, home, and family (they perpetrate parental alienation). I’ve been called every vile name FALSELY by the Department of Veteran Affairs for over a decade. It’s a nightmare to be a Veteran right now. They V.A. encourages police and sheriff to assault and harass me, and, they encourage the court to deny me a fair trial and deny me freedom of speech. I sincerely mean it when I say, “I’ll believe it when I see it (ending Veteran homelessness),” because I am a homeless Veteran.

    1. David Mahan    

      My only suggestion to you, would be to go to the nearest VA hospital, and tell them you need a psychological evaluation, to get you the treatment you obviously need. Good luck.

  24. Dana Thomas    

    I was a displaced veteran bad place in need of help and assistance once again stand tall I found that in today’s VA thank you so much for your service.

  25. Victor S. Duncan    

    I am a Vietnam Vet divorced since 2003, & homeless since! I have bounced around from sister to brother, friend to friend, girlfriend to girlfriend, Florida to Alabama to Georgia to Missouri back to Georgia & now back to Florida again from relative to relative & still homeless in 2016 @62 years old now & after stomach cancer & chemo in 2007, a motorcycle accident in 2013, & still not fully recovered nor able to find employment or obtain SSI/Disability I am yet still not considered homeless from the prospective of the VA. But I have NOT been able to receive ONE thing even remotely considered to be a HOMELESS RESOURCE especially resembling a HOME! I need dental care more than I need a home & can’t even get THAT! I believe we as Veterans are treated like the enemy when it comes to dental care!

  26. Bernie Malczewski    

    yes I to have been denied dental help. always told i dont qualify. drafted for korea in 1953. dental work done pulled half of my teeth out in 1955 . drafted at 19 to go get killed shure is trilling to know maybe your life could end so young. thanks for being a vet.and be told you do not qulify. a 83 year old vet.

    1. David Mahan    

      Yes it’s true in regards to dental benefits from the VA. I’m not quite sure why it is that the VA will provide medical benefits to vets, but when it comes to dental, the only treatment they provide is emergency treatment, which is basically pulling out your teeth if you have a cavity, or just need a root-canal. The only vets eligible for dental benefits are those who are retired vets, or those who are deemed a disabled vet. This is something that I see very little discussed about, but is a major flaw in much needed benefits that vets, not only need, but should be receiving! Much more attention needs to be placed on the lack of dental care that vets are not getting, or as of now, are not entitled too. I honestly don’t understand why this is.

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