Fayetteville VA helps homeless vets

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Earlier this month, I interviewed Jeanne Marshall, the Program Coordinator for the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) program at the Fayetteville Veterans Administration Medical Center (FVAMC).

Marshall leads a team of eleven social workers who work to connect homeless veterans with resources provided by the VA and the local community. In addition to holding walk-in hours at the medical center, HCHV workers go into community—to shelters, soup kitchens, and local encampments—looking for veterans.

According to Marshall, the priority is getting veterans off the streets and into some type housing. Medical care, substance abuse counseling, and other services are easier to provide once a veteran has a place to stay at night.

Several housing programs are available to veterans. The Housing and Urban Development/Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD/VASH) program provides veterans with subsidized permanent housing. The Grant and Per Diem program provides veterans up to eighteen months of housing. And, the VA reserves beds for veterans at local facilities.

Despite the best efforts of the VA and the local community, however, many veterans remain homeless. According to the latest Point-in-Time Count, there were 1,606 homeless people in Cumberland County. One-hundred-fifty-two were veterans, and 113 were living in places like cars, parks, abandoned buildings, or the street.

And the number of homeless veterans may rise in the future.

“I personally expected more homeless OEF/OIF veterans,” said Marshall. “I expect we’ll see more as we draw down our forces.”

In contrast, the Fayetteville area has only 371 beds for the homeless, and only a few are reserved for veterans. The Fayetteville HCHV program has served 751 people so far this year. At the time of the interview, Marshall had issued 134 out of the available 135 HUD/VASH vouchers.

“We could easily fill two to three times the number of vouchers,” said Marshall.

The VA continues in its efforts. Currently, there is a request out for bids from community programs to provide emergency shelter for veterans. In the meantime, Marshall and her team continue their work.

“We’re doing the best that we can with what we’ve got,” said Marshall.

Veterans can call trained counselors at the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline: 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838).

National Call Center for Homeless Veterans

Posted by Galo V. Centenera on Tue. July 31, 2012 4:56 PM
Categories: Student Research

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