Today is Veterans Day, and we honor those who served their country. This Veterans Day comes as we continue to see between 20 and 24% of homeless population made up of individuals who served the United States. There is a plan to end Veterans homelessness by November 2014. This is a good thing, but we are a long way from that reality. We saw a report from HUD this last year that showed a decline in veterans homelessness, but that was based on fiction and guesses that could never withstand academic scrutiny. We will never be able to end homelessness among veterans if we cannot even figure out the extent of the problem. Veterans still have a hard time getting help with their mental illness in the vast bureaucracy. Everyday another veterans returns from Afghanistan troubled, uncertain, and without the proper support to return to civilian life.
We have a number of new programs for veterans including a rental assistance program and a new Central Intake system in which should help. We still have a lot of silly rules and obstacles in place that keep the dedicated staff from providing the help necessary to get people into housing. For example, if a veteran gets into a per diem bed at 2100 Lakeside (a shelter bed no different than any other bed in Lakeside) they have a limited period of time or they lose their eligiblity for a permanent supportive housing apartment in the community. The Veterans Administration is putting a large investment into serving homeless people with nice new buildings including the Domiciliary at the Veterans Hospital. They are still making bad decisions on some of the subcontractors who have been entrusted to serving the veterans population. There are still far too many programs that do not get the job done. There are still too many staff who are don't do enough to get people into housing or serve our veterans with compassion.
The Domiciliary staff did a ton to get people registered to vote and then getting those veterans to actually vote for who is going to lead the country. There are plenty of people who honor our veterans, but not enough who are willing to provide the best health care coverage available in this country. It does not seem that there is enough concern to provide housing to all veterans even if they self medicate with alcohol or drugs. There is a great deal of rhetoric especially by politicians, but not a lot of coordination of services among all the systems that serve veterans. With two years left to end homelessness among veterans, there is a long way to go. We will need a ton of housing vouchers; we need more forgiveness, and we need a massive expansion of health care professionals who specialize in trauma. We could honor by veterans best by actually ending homelessness among veterans. Thanks for the free meals being given out today by corporations and businessess. Now it is time for free housing for a couple of years while the veteran transitions back into civilian life.
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