Bay Pines VA Hosts a Stand Down for Homeless Vets

Courtesy Bay Pines VA.

Courtesy Bay Pines VA.

Here’s an opportunity for homeless veterans in Pinellas County as well as those in need of help with employment, medical, legal or  mental health services.

The Stand Down is scheduled Saturday, April 6, 2013, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m at Bay Pines VA, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., Bay Pines, FL.

Akin to a military “Stand Down” – the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) access to an array of services and resources in the courtyard located near building 37 at the medical center campus located in Bay Pines.

Organizers promise the event will be held rain or shine. Services available will include access to medical care; free meals, toiletries and clothing items; VA health care, benefits and housing information; employment assistance and more.

Veterans should bring a copy of their DD214 “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” birth certificate, social security card and two documents that can verify their mailing address. Veterans living in a shelter should try to bring a copy of their shelter statement.

Details about the Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event hosted by the Bay Pines VAHCS, are available by calling 727-398-6661 extension 7552.

For more information about the Bay Pines VAHCS, please visit

VA Grant to Pay for Homeless Veterans Housing in St. Pete

On average there will be an additional 25 more beds available for homeless veterans in Pinellas County thanks to a new, VA grant awarded to the Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg.

The award of $1,064,886 to the Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg, Inc. is one of 38 projects around the country that will provide temporary housing to formerly homeless Veterans with the goal that they will retain the residence as their own.

“As we drive toward our goal to end homelessness among Veterans in 2015, VA continues to find innovative ways to permanently house Veterans who were formerly homeless,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki stated in a press release. “Under President Obama’s leadership, we have made incredible strides in creating programs to aid these brave men and women who have served our Nation so well.”

The grant is part of a special program that focuses on Veterans who traditionally have had to  move out of provided housing when they completed substance abuse counseling, job training or mental health services.

The “Transition in Place” model closes the gaps in available housing for the nation’s most vulnerable homeless Veterans with substance use and mental health problems according to the release.

“Our focus is creating a team of community support — pairing a variety of services, such as mental health support, employment assistance and job training — with the essential component of housing,” Lisa Pape, national director of homeless programs for the VA’s health care system, in the release. She oversees the program.

If you know a homeless Veteran or one at risk, refer them to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, 1-877-4AID-VET.

Homeless Veterans Flood into San Diego Stand Down

Homeless Veterans Flood into San Diego Stand Down

For a quarter of a century, the Veterans Village has sponsored a Stand Down for homeless veterans in San Diego. It started as outreach for Vietnam veterans but now organizers are starting to see veterans from Desert Storm and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are looking for a safe place to bunk down, get a shower, warm meal and medical care. According to NPR, more than 1,000 veterans came out to the three-day event.

Homeless Veterans: VA Secretary Calls for Urgency

Photo courtesy of the VA Homeless Veterans website.

The battle to end homelessness among veterans is just beginning according to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. The Washington Post covered the VA secretary’s speech Wednesday at the 2012 Annual Conference of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

“Our homeless veterans are counting on us to bring a sense of urgency to this fight — and I do mean fight,” Shinseki said. “The hill gets steeper and the air gets thinner the closer you get to the summit. VA will continue to fight just as hard for our budgets as we have in the past. But at this point, more is not better: Better is better.”

The number of homeless veterans decreased the during point-in-time count from 2010 to 2011. The head of HUD attributes that to its  “housing first” strategy.

Additionally, the VA announced its partnership with the “100,000 Homes” Campaign that is present in more than 130 communities. The goal of the collaboration will be to find permanent housing for 10,000 homeless Veterans this year.

“President Obama and I are personally committed to ending homelessness among Veterans,”  Secretary Shinseki is quoted in a press release.  “Those who have served this Nation as Veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope.”

The collaboration will support the ongoing work of  “Opening Doors,” the federal plan to end chronic and Veteran homelessness.

Volunteers in participating “100,000 Homes” communities will help the VA identify homeless Veterans through their registry week process. Staff will also offer quality improvement training designed to help reduce the amount of time necessary to house a homeless Veteran to 90 days or less.

Pilot training in Los Angeles and New York City has already helped shave an average of 64 days from the Veteran housing process in these communities according to the press release.

Homeless Veterans: Permanent Housing Vouchers Funded

Homeless Woman Iraqi War Veteran in Wheelchair...

Homeless Woman Iraqi War Veteran in Wheelchair and her Chihuahua, at San Diego Stand Down. Photograph by Patty Mooney of San Diego, California, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two federal agencies have joined forces to provide $72.6 million to fund permanent housing and staff to handle case management for homeless veterans in all 50 states.

The departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development are working with local housing agencies to provide some 10,000 homeless veterans rental vouchers and the local VA Medical Centers staff  will furnish comprehensive case management.

It’s the goal of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to prevent and eliminate homelessness among Veterans by 2015. The latest estimate, according to the VA, shows that the number of homeless Veterans dropped by almost 12 percent.

A state-by-state breakdown of the housing voucher grants is available HERE.

An overview of the HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) program is available HERE.

Veterans Homelessness Drops 12 Percent Survey Shows

Homelessness has been a stubborn problem among US veterans, but federal programs have started to show some real success. A just released survey shows that the number of homeless veterans dropped nationally by 12 percent between January 2010 and January 2011.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, called it a milestone that keeps him on track for ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.

“Most important, this new report offers welcome news for the tens of thousands of veterans we have helped find a home,” Shinseki said during a conference call with reporters. “This is a critical step, but our work will not be done until no veteran lives homeless in this rich and powerful country.”

Photo courtesy of the VA Homeless Veterans website.

The “Point In Time” survey of homeless veterans was conducted in 3,000 cities and counties in January 2010 and again in January of this year. It found that veterans are 50 percent more likely to be homeless than the average American.

“We’ve learned that we cannot end homelessness through street rescues alone and that’s why the VA created the supportive services for veterans and their families,” Shinseki said.

Prevention programs are showing some success. Yet, Secretary Shaun Donovan of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, pointed to their success at reducing the number of homeless veterans on the street.

“We’re particularly proud of the fact that unsheltered homeless veterans, those that are living on the street, declined about 17 percent,” Donovan said.

However, there were still more than 67,000 homeless veterans in January according to the survey.

Bay Pines VA Hosts Stand Down for Homeless Veterans

From a previous Operation Stand Down.

The concept of the  “Stand Down” originates from the Vietnam War when units were given respite away from combat operations – it’s used now as a way to provide services, benefits and camaraderie to veterans who are homeless or to help other veterans at risk of homelessness.

There’s a long history of  Stand Downs for homeless veterans which originated in San Diego in 1988. It’s a movement that’s spread nationwide and coordinated through the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans. Some last for two or three days, while others may consist of a health or jobs fair.

Photo courtesy of the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans.

The Bay Pines VA Medical Center, 10,000 Bay Pines Blvd., near St. Petersburg, FL, is hosting a one-day Stand Down from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be a range of community agencies and VA staff on hand to answer questions as well as services available for Veterans:

  • Free Flue shots
  • Dental screenings
  • Legal information and services
  • VA and community housing programs
  • Florida ID Van
  • Free breakfast and lunch
  • Job and Education opportunities
  • Information on a range of VA health care services for women veterans, mental health, PTSD and vocational rehabilitation.
  • Door prizes including four new bicycles with lights and locks

Stand Downs are planned Friday, Oct. 21, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, at two other locations:

  • Ft. Walton Beach, FL
  • Huntsville, AL

You can learn more about those gatherings and find a schedule of the remaining 2011 Stand Downs for Homeless Veterans HERE.

The 24th Homeless Veterans “Stand Down” Set This Week

The Veterans Village of San Diego Stand Down is designed to help homeless Veterans combat life on the streets. Photo courtesy of VVSD web site.

A San Diego VA program for homeless veterans, “Stand Down,” was featured Sunday evening on CBS 60 Minutes.

The annual event in 2010 attracted a record number of veterans looking for shelter, for help kicking an addiction or for a simple shower and hot meal.

The 2011 “National Stand Down” for homeless Veterans is July 15-17 in San Diego. “Leave No One Behind” is the military motto repeated at the Veterans Village of San Diego.

You can get more information on prevention programs, housing, employment and other services by calling the Homeless Veterans National Call Center at 877-424-3838.

If you are a veteran in need of talking to someone immediately, call the Veterans Crisis Line – 800-273-8255 – and press 1.

Bartenders Can Serve Combat Veterans Several Ways

Thanks to my cousin Lizzy Miles for pointing out this story from the LA Times.

Dori Keys, a bartender at VFW Post 1503 in Virginia, is a sister, confessor, wisecracker and friend to the combat veterans who are her patrons, among them Bruce Yeager, left. (Mary F. Calvert / For The Times / June 3, 2011)

By Faye Fiore, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Dale City, Va.— The minute one of her regulars comes through the canteen door at VFW Post 1503, Dori Keys starts to pour. Captain Morgan and Diet Coke for Rich. Old Crow on the rocks for Sam. Bruce likes Miller Lite.

The men she serves have one thing in common: They are American combat veterans. After seven years of listening from behind the bar, she knows a lot more about some of them than what they drink.

Men like Bruce Yeager, 62, who came in one day complaining about a sore on his foot that wouldn’t heal. A former Army medic in Vietnam, he knew what was wrong. But it took Keys to persuade him to see a doctor. She even drove him. When they amputated his gangrenous leg a few weeks later — the result of diabetes linked to his exposure to Agent Orange — he couldn’t very well stay alone in his own home, so she brought him to hers.

“I listened to Dori because she is a real good person,” Yeager says, nursing the beer she just poured him. That’s about all he can put into words before his eyes mist up.

When it comes to dispensing healthcare, war veterans are a hard group to reach. They came up in a military system that rewards toughness and discourages complaints, particularly concerning psychological problems. Combat veterans are at well-established risk for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression; the suicide rate among them runs higher than in the civilian world.

You can read the full article here.

Helping Homeless Veterans, Identifying Homelessness Risks

There are a significant number of military veterans who are homeless in the Tampa Bay area. The region was selected as one of five in the nation for a collaborative project that focused on preventing and eventually ending homelessness among veterans. The demonstration project is focused on:

— veterans returning from Iraq (OEF) and Afghanistan (OIF),

— female veterans

— veterans with families especially with a single head of household

— National Guard and Reserve

The other demonstration projects are in San Diego, California; Kilien, Texas; Watertown, New York; and Tacoma, Washington – all near military bases.

A recent homeless count in just Hillsborough County found more than 7,000 people living on the streets and an estimated 20 percent or 1,400 are veterans.

Photo courtesy of the Houston VA.

The pilot project brings together the services and know-how of the local Homeless Coalition, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development (HUD ) and the Department of Labor.

Their new approach is designed to identify veterans before they lose their housing prevent it or those newly homeless, within 90 days.

Mark Johnston is with HUD which provided a $2 million grant for the Veterans Homelessness Prevention Project in Tampa Bay. Each of the five regions  received a $2 million grant, and each project is designed specifically to fit the needs of their area’s veterans.

“The key is to really identify people who are at risk of homelessness. This is not just a program to provide rent. This is a program to target veterans who are literally at imminent risk of becoming homeless,” said Johnston.

Those risk factors include poverty, disability and substance abuse. The three-year project is will identify veterans, help them and then track the veterans over time to find out what prevention measures work best.

To find out more about eligibility, in the Tampa Bay area (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties) you can call the VHPD Coordinator – (813) 979-3536.

The VA has a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans or a homeless veteran can call 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838).

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