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Housing and Services for Veterans


By: Volunteers of America

Background

Since 1896 Volunteers of America has responded to community needs with compassion and consistency In times of disaster and times of war Volunteers of America has been there. When the United States entered World War I, Volunteers of America focused its efforts on “Holding the Home Lines.” Care for children and housing for women expanded, and canteens and accommodations were opened for service men. Again in World War II, Volunteers of America expanded and adapted services to support servicemen, as well as mothers engaged in defense work. New programs opened to combat rising juvenile delinquency. Volunteers of America’s concern for servicemen did not end with the war’s end. In 1950 the organization initiated a campaign against “widespread public indifference and even hostility to men in uniform.” As homelessness reached crisis proportion in the 1980s, homeless veterans began showing up in increasing numbers in our emergency shelters. When the US Department of Veterans Affairs initiated support for homeless veteran services in 1987, Volunteers of America quickly partnered, opening new housing and support services for homeless veterans. Today, Volunteers of America is at the forefront of the issue of homelessness for veterans—as a service provider and an advocate.

Assistance for Homeless Veterans

Nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and twice as many experience homelessness during a year. Right now, the number of homeless Vietnam era veterans is greater than the number of service persons who died during that war. Already, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are appearing in the homeless population.

Volunteers of America is committed to ending homelessness for those on the street and preventing others from becoming homeless. Volunteers of America provides a wide array of well-designed and managed services to meet the specific needs of homeless veterans.

Services include:

Service Centers


Locating and connecting with homeless veterans is a key to the success of all Volunteers of America’s programs. In some locations integrated service centers are provided, where veterans have access to a full array of services in one location. Volunteers of America also operates a mobile service center, reaching out to veterans with medical and dental care and access to benefits and services.

Housing

Transitional housing is provided for homeless veterans and their families. Comprehensive support services include outreach and assessment, emergency services and case management. Volunteers of America also offers Transitional Treatment Programs, providing residential therapeutic treatment for veterans recovering from substance addiction; and special need services for the frail elderly and veterans with mentally illness.

Employment and Training

Homeless veterans are prepared to re-enter the labor force through employment and training, as well as linkage to community support services. A special feature is outreach by veterans who themselves have experienced homelessness. Employment programs also include Compensated Work Therapy, where veterans learn new job skills. Volunteers of America also operates Incarcerated Veterans Transitional Programs, reintegrating veterans exiting the corrections system into their home communities.

Program Scope

In 2006 Volunteers of America served over 6,000 homeless veterans through housing and services.

Programs include

  • 32 Grant & Per Diem Programs with eight more in development
  • 13 Homeless Veterans Re-Integration Programs
  • 2 HUD Permanent Supported Housing programs for homeless veterans
  • 2 Service Centers
  • 1 Mobile Service Center
  • 2 Transitional Housing Programs, licensed as Alcohol and Drug

Treatment Centers
  • 2 Special Needs Grants for chronically mentally ill and frail elderly
  • 2 Incarcerated Veterans Transitional Programs

A Voice for Homeless Veterans


Volunteers of America is also an outspoken advocate for homeless veterans. In October 2006 the organization, along with the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, convened a policy leadership dialogue on the issue, producing a report, entitled “Ending Homelessness Among Veterans Through Permanent Supportive Housing.” Participants called on the 110th Congress to act quickly both to create more permanent supportive housing for disabled veterans and to target resources to increase income support, employment, health, and housing programs that assist all veterans.

Looking to the Future

In addition to addressing homelessness for veterans, Volunteers of America is concerned about two other significant issues facing veterans and their families. First, the current ranks of veterans are aging, placing new demands on medical services and nursing care. Second, soldiers are surviving horrific injuries in the current conflicts with and returning home, creating unprecedented demands for rehabilitation, supportive services, and accessible housing. Volunteers of America is uniquely qualified to assist with these emerging issues. As a major provider of professional long-term nursing care for seniors and others coping with illness or injury, we offer a continuum of services that includes assisted living, memory care, nursing care, rehabilitative therapy, and home health. We also support individuals with disabilities in their own homes and accessible apartments, including ones specifically for persons with traumatic brain injuries and persons with spinal cord injuries. Backed by our legacy of services, Volunteers of America is committed to finding new approaches to these emerging issues.
 
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