How can we better support homeless veterans in our communities?

Volunteer for Stand Down programs: these are two- to three-day events that offer homeless veterans a safe, community-like retreat to receive health care and personal hygiene services, food, clothing, housing and job referrals, and advice on VA benefits, all in one place. Meanwhile, around 1.5 million additional veterans are considered to be at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and poor housing with poor conditions.

How can we better support homeless veterans in our communities?

Volunteer for Stand Down programs: these are two- to three-day events that offer homeless veterans a safe, community-like retreat to receive health care and personal hygiene services, food, clothing, housing and job referrals, and advice on VA benefits, all in one place. Meanwhile, around 1.5 million additional veterans are considered to be at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and poor housing with poor conditions. The Supported Housing Rental Assistance Program helps people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless with temporary rental subsidies, utility payments and moving costs. Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless can call or visit the local Virginia Medical Center (VAMC) and request a homeless coordinator.

More veterans' families are economically disadvantaged, which increases their risk of becoming homeless: 12.9% say they have incomes equal to or less than 150% of the poverty level, and 9.2% of veterans receive government assistance. The American Legion has increased the American Legion's support for homeless veterans, coordinating the Homeless Veterans Task Force in all its departments to complement service providers for the homeless and fill gaps in cases where assistance programs are not available. The Salvation Army has joined efforts to end homelessness in the general population, including veterans. Homeless transition assistance projects help people with mental illness or substance use disorders and their families if they are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Homeless veterans are at greater risk of mental health problems and mortality rates than their counterparts in society. The best way to help them, according to the article “How to Help Homeless Veterans” by Forbes, is to help them find work and housing. VETS aims to address inequities within communities that contribute to disproportionate rates of homelessness and unemployment among veterans. The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) is a competitive employment-focused grant program administered by the Department of Labor, the Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS) and is the only federal grant that focuses exclusively on the competitive employment of homeless veterans.

The lack of healthy support networks, affordable housing, and rising poverty are the reasons why veterans are at greater risk of becoming homeless. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preventing and ending veterans' homelessness in communities across the country by collaborating with several organizations to provide affordable housing, employment opportunities, household essentials and more. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its partners are working diligently to ensure that homelessness among veterans is rare, brief and non-recurring. These grants are awarded through the Veterans Family Support Services Program (SSVF), which is the housing program for homeless veterans and their families.

There are many organizations that provide services to these homeless veterans to help them recover and reintegrate into society, but they often need the help of volunteers to make this happen.

Selena Honie
Selena Honie

Zombie practitioner. Extreme music practitioner. Amateur music nerd. Evil bacon trailblazer. Hardcore web advocate.