The Invisible Homeless
February 6, 2012
Filed under Veteran Women
We all are aware of the homeless. We see them on the street or holding a sign. Some of us give food or money, and others dismiss them as beggars. They come from all walks of life, and I’m sure many have a storied past of grandeur, and yet another set of events that led them to become part of this marginalized segment of society. Did you know of the many stories held in the hearts and minds of America’s homeless include those of war, mental and physical trauma, being a courageous defender of America, and possibly an abandoned child of the same? Did you know the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) estimates up to two of every ten homeless is an American veteran?
In June, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated in its 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, there were 1.6 million sheltered and 650,000 unsheltered homeless persons in the U.S. during the previous 12 months, for an estimated total of 2.25 million homeless. It was reported that 78 percent are adult, 38 percent are women and 37 percent are disabled adults.
Due the transient history of veterans, earlier Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and United States Interagency Council on Homelessness data estimates the nation’s homeless veteran population to be 23 percent with approximately five percent of the homeless veteran population being women. Presently, these statistics translate in numbers to approximately 518,000 homeless veterans, with approximately 26,000 female veterans in shelters, or sleeping on the street over the course of the year. In my discussions with individuals over the years, many people don’t think of veterans when they think of homelessness, and even fewer think of women when they think of veterans.
The VA has introduced a special initiative to end veteran homelessness. It provides services to veterans at risk for or attempting to exit homelessness. The program includes the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans Hotline, for veterans and their families to address issues confidentially with counselors 24 hours, 7 days a week at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).
Another VA program is the annual Winterhaven Homeless Veterans Stand Down. This event brings VA services and community agencies together to provide a day of support for homeless veterans in the areas of health care, employment, education and housing. Stand downs are held across the country and provide one-stop assistance to the veteran. They will also be able to enjoy a hot meal, haircuts, receive personal care kits and donations of warm clothing.
The next event will be held on Jan 21, 2012:
Washington VA Medical Center
50 Irving Street, NW
Washington, DC 20422
The VA has 1620 facilities across the nation, including Alaska and Hawaii to answer questions and aid homeless veterans. Go to http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/index.asp
A few local shelter and meal facilities are:
Hypothermia Hotline: 202-399-7093
House of Ruth: 202-667-7001
St Stephens Church: 202-232-0900 (meals)
Shelter Housing: 1-888-731-0999
The Shepherd’s Table: 301-585-6459 (meals, Silver Spring)
Meade Memorial Church: 703-549-1334 (meals)
I hope many readers will be inspired to action to help address this issue. If you desire to become involved in this area of critical need, NCHV suggests you align yourself with others combating this issue, make a donation to your local homeless veteran provider and contact your elected officials to discuss what is being done for homeless veterans.
To all you ladies and fellow veterans, please seek out and utilize services available to aid you. You can go into any VA or social services facility to inquire about assistance, medical care, food and shelter.
I wish for you bright futures.