Veterans

April 5, 2012

VA makes progress on pledge to end veteran homelessness

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON “” The Veterans Affairs Department is making progress on its pledge to end homelessness among veterans, with a focus on getting all homeless veterans off the streets by 2015, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told American Forces Press Service.

Shinseki joined President Barack Obama in announcing the plan in November 2009, proclaiming that no veteran should ever have to be living on the streets.

VA is working toward that goal, Shinseki told Congress last month, reporting that the number of homeless veterans on a given night dropped from 76,300 in 2010 to about 67,500 in 2011. The next goal, he said, is to drive those numbers down to 35,000 by the end of fiscal 2013, and ultimately, to zero.

As Shinseki set out to transform VA after arriving in 2009, he made the homeless issue a top priority in getting to the bottom of what he viewed as an institutional problem.

“Homelessness among veterans was a demonstration to me that we didn’t have all our programs knitted together,” he said. “As good as we thought we were doing in health care and other benefits, “¦ we had people who were slipping through the gaps in our programs “” most visibly, the homeless.”

Getting homeless veterans off the streets, particularly within such a tight timeline, would be the driving force in creating positive change throughout VA, he explained.

It means more than simply getting veterans into school; it means making sure they graduate, he explained. It’s not just sending them for vocational training; it’s ensuring they finish the training and are postured to land a job.

To support this effort, VA’s budget request for fiscal 2013 includes nearly $1.4 billion for programs designed to prevent or end homelessness among veterans. This represents a 33 percent increase, or $333 million, over the 2012 funding level.

The additional funding will provide grants and technical assistance to community nonprofit organizations to maintain veterans and their families in current housing or get them quickly into new housing. It also will provide grants and per diem payments for community-based organizations offering transitional housing to 32,000 veterans.

Shinseki also plans to hire 200 coordinators to help homeless veterans with disability claims, housing problems, job and vocational opportunities and problems with the courts.

Since announcing his homeless initiative, Shinseki said, he’s come to understand that dealing with homelessness is really a two-part challenge.

It’s one thing to get homeless veterans physically off the streets in what he calls the “rescue” part of the challenge. Shinseki said he feels confident that this part of the mission to be completed by 2015, as promised.

But the less visible and more challenging part of the problem, he said, is addressing a population that’s at risk of becoming homeless. These, Shinseki explained, are veterans who are “one paycheck, one mortgage payment, one more missed utility bill away from being evicted.”

“We never see that. But if we are going to truly end homelessness, we have to have a better picture of [that]“¦ and go into prevention mode,” Shinseki said. “Otherwise, you will never be able to solve this.”

So while he expects the rescue mission to wrap up in 2015, Shinseki said, he’ll be able to dedicate more resources toward an ongoing prevention effort.

“If you don’t stop this faucet, you never end homelessness,” he said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

VA: Disability claims backlog drops by 44 percent

WASHINGTON — One year after the backlog of pending disability compensation claims peaked at over 611,000 in March 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs has reduced that number by approximately 44 percent to 344,000 claims — a reduction of more than 267,000 — while at the same time improving the accuracy of the decisions being...
 
 

Retiree Council shares news, notes

Army changes retirement status listing Some customs and courtesies will never change, such as showing respect for the U. S. flag. However, the Army recently modified how retirees list their retired status. The Army published the new policy on May 17, 2013, in Army Regulation 25-50, Preparing and Managing Correspondence. The policy puts retired Reservists...
 
 

Social Security launches expedited veteran disability process

WASHINGTON — Social Security claims from veterans with a Veterans Affairs Department disability compensation rating of 100 percent permanent and total have a new process that will treat their applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions. Carolyn Colvin, the acting Social Security commissioner, said the new process is similar to the way the agency...
 

 

Retiree Council shares news, notes

In accordance with Army Regulation 600-8-7, the objectives of the Retiree Council Program are to provide the Army’s top leaders with insight into vital issues and concerns of retired Soldiers. The program also gives the Army retired community an opportunity to: Communicate with the Active Army; receive advice on, analyze and provide input on decisions,...
 
 
U.S. Postal Service

VA launches online tool to calculate Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits

U.S. Postal Service The Department of Veterans Affairs launched an online GI Bill Comparison Tool, Tuesday, to make it easier for veterans, service members and dependents to calculate their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and learn ...
 
 

VA offers $600M to support services for homeless vet families

WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Department officials announced Tuesday the availability of about $600 million in grants through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program for nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives that serve very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing. “Those who have served our nation should never find themselves on the streets, living w...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin