The 18th annual Thanksgiving Dinner was held at the Buffalo VA site on Sunday prior to Thanksgiving for Veterans in need. It’s always a festive event with music, VA staff and family serving Veterans the nutritious meals prepared by the hard-working crew pictured above.
Thanksgiving came early to the VA Health Care for Homeless Veterans program in Western New York (WNY).
Along with community partners, Homeless Alliance of Western New York and Veterans One-Stop Center, they announced the continued success of connecting homeless Veterans, and Veterans at risk of being homeless, to shelter.
In October 2016, the WNY community, including mayors of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Tonawanda, and Lockport announced the ending of Veteran homelessness in response to the former First Lady’s call to action through the Mayors’ Challenge to end Veteran homelessness.
Nationally, Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Annual Homeless Assessment Report finds the total number of reported Veterans experiencing homelessness in 2018 decreased 5.4 percent since last year, falling to nearly half the number of homeless Veterans reported in 2010. In WNY, the number has decreased by 12 percent. Early intervention produced the decline in Veterans needing this type of service.
“The collaboration of VA Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program staff and federal, state, and local community agencies is vital to ensuring Veterans are connected to immediate shelter and other services,” said Michael J. Swartz, executive director, VA Western New York Healthcare System.
The team is out on the streets building trust with Veterans who need health care, shelter and other services. VA Western New York Healthcare System’s leadership team visited Veterans managed by the VA HCHV program delivering turkeys and other items.