How homeless vets are getting help in Augusta, elsewhere

WRDW News 12 5 a.m. Nov. 11
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 2:06 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - The Department of Veterans Affairs and volunteers in Augusta and across the U.S. are working to help veterans who defended Americans and their freedoms but have no home to call their own.

Toward that end, the Veterans Affairs Augusta Health Care System will host a Homeless Veteran Stand Down event to assist veterans in need of help with resources.

The event will be Nov. 18. from 10 a.m. to noon at 1 Freedom Way in Augusta.

Veterans can drive through or walk up to the pavilion located behind the VA hospital, at the top of the hill overlooking the rear parking lot and field of solar panels. Masks are required and provided.

There will be access to items like toiletries, gloves, blankets and socks; a boxed lunch, a benefit eligibility screening and the opportunity to register for health care and more.

Homelessness among veterans is an ongoing problem, even though the numbers have been declining for more than a decade, thanks to programs and volunteers.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it is on track to meet its goal of housing 38,000 veterans this calendar year.

“Our outreach team goes out and engages veterans. We also provide supportive housing services,” said Ilana Marmon, the coordinated entry specialist at the Washington VA Medical Center.

Marmon and Sha-Ron Haddock explained that there is a greater emphasis now on giving homeless vets a place to live first, rather than waiting for long-term treatment for possible substance abuse or mental health issues to be finished.

“The old school was, veterans had to, you know, be ready for housing,” Haddock said. “They had to be drug-free … with housing first, we take you. If you’re ready for housing, we would get you into housing.”

Getting the number of homeless vets down to zero is the job of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough.

When asked about what he is doing differently to bring the number down, McDonough responded that they are working to identify homeless vets and what conditions they are living in.

“We aggressively work to identify, by name, our homeless veterans,” McDonough said. “Not only do we identify them by name, but we find out what it is that ails them. And why are they in the situation that they find themselves.”

McDonough also pointed to more money from Congress that helps with projects such as finishing new homes for veterans, like the studios and one-bedroom apartments at the VA in west Los Angeles.

“I think that the numbers, the amount of assistance that Congress has dedicated to this challenge, and that we and that local, and state governments have dedicated to this challenge is new,” he said. “There’s no question about that.”

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and CNN