One of the biggest plights facing veterans in the U.S. is homelessness. In fact, homelessness is such a concerning issue among veterans that they are twice as likely as other American to be chronically homeless. Although it is difficult to give an exact figure, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that on any given night there are approximately 47,725 homeless veterans and anywhere from 529,000 to 840,000 are homeless at some time during the year. Among Vietnam-era veterans, the number of homeless veterans, both male and female, exceeds the number of soldiers who died in combat during the war. Of the total homeless population in the country, 33 percent are veterans.
Despite efforts by the VA to help homeless veterans with health care, even a single veteran living on the streets is too many. To help reduce the incidence of homeless veterans in Greenville, South Carolina, the city has been awarded funding recently.
Funds Awarded to Greenville Homeless Veterans
Greenville is receiving $63,792 in federal funding to aid homeless veterans secure permanent housing. The money, which is being given by HUD and the VA, is part of the $417,204 of rental assistance being awarded across South Carolina to help 80 homeless veterans. The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program is providing the rental assistance in combination with the VA’s case management and clinical services. The goal of HUD-VASH is to end homelessness among the tens of thousands of veterans around the country by providing both funds for housing and supportive services to veterans.
The HUD SE Regional Administrator Ed Jennings, Jr. wants to assure Greenville veterans that they are making “significant progress reducing homelessness among veterans.” He insists that veterans deserve the best the country has to offer and ensures the program will keep fighting on behalf of every veteran until they have a place they can call home.
The program has already successfully helped 111,000 formerly homeless veterans find homes and it hopes to add thousands more do the same. Before referring homeless veterans to local housing agencies, the HUD-VASH program enlists the aid of VA Medical Centers to assess homeless veterans. In this way, they can identify any veterans who may need further supportive services to find and maintain permanent housing.
Which Veterans Can Apply For HUD-VASH Program?
In order to qualify for the program, veterans must be eligible for VA health care and meet the definition of homelessness set by the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. The most vulnerable of veterans are excellent candidates for the programs, especially those with serious mental illness, physical disability, or history of substance abuse.
Why Veterans Are Homeless
Adjusting to civilian life after serving their country can be extremely difficult for veterans and the reasons for so many homeless veterans is based on a set of complex factors. It is partially due to the shortage of affordable housing, lack of a livable income, and inadequate access to health care. Many veterans are displaced and at-risk due to the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological trauma, military injuries, substance abuse, and the lack of support from family or social networks who fail to understand their needs. Other veterans, despite their military service, find themselves at a disadvantage for employment when they have few skills considered transferable to the civilian workforce.
What Homeless Veterans Need
The key to solving the homelessness issue of U.S. veterans rests not only in finding them permanent homes, but helping them successfully transition from military duty to civilian life. When combating homelessness, programs must focus not only on securing housing, but also ensuring that veterans can obtain nutritional meals, basic physical health care, mental health counseling, treatment and rehabilitation for substance abuse, and help with personal development and empowerment. This means veterans who are struggling with unemployment must also receive job assessment, training, and assistance with placement. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans believes helping veterans obtain and sustain employment is crucial for alleviating homelessness.
For at-risk veterans, programs that are community-based, nonprofit, and involve other “veterans helping veterans,” seem to be the most effective. Government funding for these programs, although important, is often limited, and helping veterans find transitional housing and employment greatly rests on the efforts of local, collaborative programs that offer services to veterans.
Help From the VA
While it is committed to helping end homelessness among veterans by providing assistance and funding similar to the money recently awarded to Greenville, the VA is often overrun. They do provide healthcare to an estimated 150,000 homeless veterans and a variety of other services to another 112,000 veterans. In addition, the VA provides compensation and pension benefits every month to more than 40,000 homeless veterans.
Although the VA can provide limited resources to homeless veterans, it has, since 1987, largely collaborated with and relied on community service providers to reach more veterans who are in trouble. Their combined efforts have secured 15,000 residential rehabilitative and transitional beds as well as 30,000 permanent beds for veterans. The number of homeless veterans has significantly been reduced over the years, but still remains one of the major obstacles facing veterans.
Any veterans who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless, should reach out to their local VA Medical Center. The local Greenville VA Medical Clinic can be found at 41 Park Creek Drive.
Veterans’ Disability Attorney In Greenville
Working for years in Greenville, SC, J. Robert Surface Attorney at Law has dedicated his career to helping veterans get the help they need. We understand that homeless veterans are often plagued by a variety of health issues, ranging from PTSD to substance abuse. Veterans with disabilities deserve to get the help and compensation they need to begin a new chapter in their lives. Contact our law office in Greenville to find out more how we are fighting for justice for servicemen and women in South Carolina. If you are a veteran in our community and need assistance with a disability and have questions regarding your rights or how you can receive compensation, contact our dedicated veterans’ disability attorneys in Greenville today.