June 16, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

VA Tackles Homeless Issue

Three formally homeless veterans discuss the services they received from the VA (good).A full-day conference took place on the VA campus last month, with an agenda of ending homelessness among veterans by the year 2015. The problem of homelessness among combat veterans is far more acute than among the population at large.
The VA has several programs for homeless veterans, which take them through a process: checking out their physical and mental health; helping them get off drugs or alcohol; finding them transitional housing; followed by getting them ready to reenter society as productive citizens.
One of the more vexing challenges is getting homeless veterans to check themselves into care in the first place. There is a big lack of trust among veterans of such a big institution (which possibly let them down in the past) and, in the case of homeleDr. Susan Angell, Executive Director for Veterans Homeless Initiatives at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Donna M. Beitter, Director of the VA  Greater LA Healthcare System.ss veterans with mental health issues, this fear can reflect borderline or even full-fledged paranoia.
Several outreach professionals from the VA talked about scouring camps beneath bridges and other places throughout LA County looking for veterans. These outreach representatives are not always welcomed with open arms. Several formerly homeless veterans who took the risk and checked themselves in said they were glad they did. Many are now alcohol and substance free, living in supportive housing, getting an education and returning to the workplace.
Many city, county, state, federal and private agencies are working toward reducing homelessness among veterans in the area. ThoFlora Gil Krisiloff and Anita  Kaplan of Project 60, which  targets hard-core homelessugh one might think such overlap might create inefficiencies, speaker after speaker made it clear everyone worked well together and that the needs of the individual veteran were everyone’s paramount concern.
There were 17,000 homeless veterans on the streets of Los Angeles County ten years ago, according to VA officials; today, that number is down to 8,600. The goal, set by President Obama and VA Secretary Shinseki, is to get this number down to zero by 2015.
“No veteran left behind†was a rallying cry heard often during the conference.
Meanwhile, four veteran plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, and the VA (the defendant) continue to produce legal briefs outlining their positions regarding whether the VA is obligated to provide housing for homeless veterans in the area.
Veterans point to the original deed giving the land to the federal government, calling for a “permanent†home for disabled soldiers. The VA counters by saying it sees itself in the healthcare business, not the housing business.
The VA works closely with HUD and provides VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers good for housing in the area. Three buildings on the West LA campus are being rehabilitated for the purpose of providing housing to those who are in the early stages of their transition to health.

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