One of VA’s most important missions is also among its most challenging: ending Veteran homelessness once and for all. The goal has been set for the end of 2015, and the numbers seem to be heading in the right direction; last year, Veteran homelessness fell by 12 percent, thanks to an infusion of prevention services.
This isn’t an initiative that will succeed at just the federal level, but locally as well. Two recent stories highlight what can happen when all levels begin to meet mission.
The first, from the Rapid City Journal, details a VA program that intakes homeless Veterans and puts them to work at VA national cemeteries. The paid positions don’t just offer steady income, but something worth holding onto as Veterans work to lift themselves back up, as an Iraq Vet in the program described:
“It’s given me a sense of pride,” he said. “I was kind of blowing in the wind.” He also plans to continue to use the skill set at a job after the year is up, even if it means leaving the Black Hills.
“I love this program; I’m intent on doing this job,” Kurttila said.
The second article from The Washington Post helps illustrate how local organizations are making an impact despite challenges that can delay assistance, like proper identification for homeless Veterans:
This is a common problem for homeless people. “You need ID to get ID,” said Jan-Michael Sacharko, director of development for A-SPAN. “You have to establish you’re a resident of Arlington, which is a bit of an oxymoron — how do you establish you’re a homeless resident of Arlington?”
After many months, enough paperwork was collected to get Maas’s birth certificate from California.
Taken together, these articles show progress is hard fought and can be won, but challenges are still ahead to roll that counter down to zero.
If you’re a homeless Veteran or family member, or at risk of becoming homeless, please give our help line a call at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838), and visit our homeless Veteran site for more information on housing assistance, health care options, and more.