The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans recently formed a panel of Veterans who have both utilized VA services and experienced homelessness. The panel met with the committee to inform its recommendations to the VA Secretary.
There is no better source of knowledge on homelessness than those who have experienced it. The committee’s recommendations to the Secretary will assist him in helping other Veterans exit homelessness.
One of the committee’s top goals was to influence VA messaging. It wanted to ensure that all Veterans who’re experiencing homelessness, or who’re at risk of homelessness, know they can come to VA for help. This includes Veterans with families, women Veterans, disabled Veterans, and minority Veterans.
The committee meets twice a year and travels to various cities to observe the city’s systems in place. Last year, the committee met in San Francisco to observe how a high-cost market has increased homelessness there, and how markets like this are testing innovative ways to create affordable housing for Veterans.
This year, the committee met in Washington, D.C., and will meet in Minnesota later this year. There, the committee will talk to leaders who have successfully adapted measures to end Veteran homelessness. The committee will then apply the lessons learned from those interactions to states and communities across the country.
Formation and goals
The VA Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans operates under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. It was founded on March 1, 2002, following the passage of the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001. This committee’s primary objective is to advise the Secretary on the provision of benefits and services to Veterans experiencing homelessness. This is one of VA’s top priorities.
The current committee is a diverse group of 15 experts who are knowledgeable about homelessness, housing, and health care. Five Veterans are on the committee, two of whom have experienced homelessness themselves. Committee members can be nominated by a third party, or they can self-nominate by submitting a resume and a brief cover letter to HomelessVets@va.gov. The committee reviews nominations every two years. The next recruitment cycle is in 2020, but the committee accepts nominations any time, in case an existing member resigns or leaves the board due to other circumstances. Nominees can opt to remain in consideration for the following cycle if they are not selected. Committee members can serve a maximum of two consecutive two-year terms.
The committee will continue to advise the Secretary on how best to meet homeless Veterans’ needs. With VA’s vision, leadership, and support for evidence-based practices, it’s possible to ensure that every Veteran has a place to call home.
- Visit the advisory committee’s website to learn more about the committee and its history.
- Visit VA’s Homeless Veterans website to learn about VA’s work and commitment to Veterans.
- Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless can call or visit their local VA medical center, where VA staff are ready to assist. Veterans and their families can also access VA services by calling 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).
Leisa Davis’ 28 years of federal government service includes time in finance, budget, performance reporting, strategic planning, project management, and executive meeting management.