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April 14, 2013

VETERANS’ CORNER: Helping homeless vets

By JIM VINES

The Veterans Administration has streamlined its efforts to help homeless vets by concentrating its efforts to help veterans in four areas. Employment, safe housing, health care and mental heath care are now more defined to aid veterans quicker.

Opportunities to return to employment are available through the VA’s Compensated Work Therapy and the Homeless Veterans Supported Employment Program. CWT provides workshops, transitional work, and supported employment by paying at least the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher. HVSEP provides vocational assistance, job development and placement.

HUD-VA Supportive Housing is a joint effort between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the VA, allocating nearly 38,000 Section 8 vouchers across the country. Vouchers allow veterans and their families to live in market rate rental units. Subsidies are paid to the landlord on behalf of the veteran, with the veteran responsible for the difference between the actual rent charged and the amount subsidized by the program.

The VA’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans program, offers outreach, exams, treatment referrals, and case management. Homeless Patient Aligned Care Teams provides a coordinated “medical home” specifically tailored to the needs of homeless veterans that integrates clinical care with the delivery of social services with enhanced access and community coordination.

Homeless Veterans Dental Program makes treatment available to all veterans through a number of programs under HVDP. Project CHALENG (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups) brings together providers, advocates and other concerned citizens to assist veterans.

Veterans Justice Outreach provides veterans timely access to mental health, substance use, and incarcerated veteran services when clinically indicated. Affiliations within the community in these areas, coordinate the veteran with the specifically identified need in order to assist.

Veterans can call the VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans to speak to a trained VA responder without the veteran having to register with the VA or enroll into the VA healthcare system. The responder will be available to answer all questions and to assess the veteran’s needs. Calls can be made to 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) for help in any of the above described areas by the veteran or caregiver.

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