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428 homeless South Carolina veterans identified in January count

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:00 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Memorial Day is about honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Transitions Homeless Center CEO and veteran Craig Currey said it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the welfare of veterans in South Carolina.

“I think this Memorial Day we can be thankful for the service and sacrifice of those who gave their lives, and we can think too about what can we do to make their sacrifice more meaningful by making a better society, and I would argue a compassionate society is probably a better society,” he said.

Transitions is among a host of organizations working to help veterans who are struggling with homelessness.

The 2020 South Carolina State of Homelessness Report from the Interagency Council on Homelessness reports that in January 2020, 428 self-identifying veterans were homeless during a snapshot (single night) survey.

That number is down from 2019, but the Midlands remained the region with the most homeless veterans.

Transitions’ website states the following in part in regards to service for veterans:

“...Our partnership with Dorn VA Medical Center is helpful in identifying veterans who could benefit from our services and coordinating our efforts to ensure we are effective in helping to stabilize veterans here until we can move them to their own housing. These men and women have their own case manager to help them on their journey. At Transitions, we offer three four-bed rooms for veterans, including one room exclusively for female veterans experiencing homelessness. The staff has also undergone specialized training in intervention methods to better help us in working with our veteran population.”

Christ Central Ministries also runs a veteran-oriented transitional housing program in Lexington, the Central Midlands Transitional Retreat.

It offers housing, education, counseling, and training among other resources for veterans.

Retreat Lead Dorm Manager Bruce Credle said he currently works with 27 veterans at the site, and one issue stands out.

“I think there needs to be a greater focus on mental health. We’re slipping through the cracks on that. We’re having veterans that are coming through here and it’s taking too much time to start focusing on that,” he said.

The report cites mental health and substance abuse disorder as driving factors behind homelessness in South Carolina.

The SC Department of Veterans’ Affairs was not immediately available to comment on this story but does list resources for homeless veterans on its website.

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