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Week 5 Final Assignment

By bjhamh May 27, 2015 2451 Words

What has and will be done for our homeless veterans?

What has and will be done for our homeless veterans?
Our veterans are an important part to society. They gave their lives to protect their country every day. Though many face hard times and homelessness they are still part of society. The Department of Veteran Affairs has in place a plan to end homelessness by the end of this year. The public can lend a hand in helping to end veteran homelessness. Our veterans are falling asleep under the stars, on a bench, under a bridge, or in a tent city. Veterans are important people and our country would not be where it is without them. Even though veterans may put themselves in the situation, society and the Department of Veteran Affairs can do more to help the homeless veterans My thesis is that even though veterans may put themselves in the situation, society and the Department of Veteran Affairs can do more to help the homeless veterans. Many veterans have drug abuse, alcoholism, or criminal backgrounds. Veterans have many health issues and mental health issues. Often veterans have gotten out of the military and are suffering from PTSD, sexual trauma, and many other illnesses. They may not have family support and in turn they turn to alternatives to try and make them feel comfort. My goal is to open eyes and seek answers for what is and has been done for our homeless veterans. Veterans are receiving help from multiple agencies. Living on the streets, in and out of jail, and on drugs Mr. Cook was fortunate to have gotten the help he needed. He has been clean for more than six months and is looking for work. Thanks to an initiative between the Department of Veteran Affairs and a real estate developer in San Francisco Mr. Cook along with about 129 other homeless veterans are getting off the streets. This will be the first time Mr. Cook has had a stable roof over his head in 17 years (State Health, 2014). Validity of the main sources

My thesis revolves mainly around the following three articles: O’Toole, T., Pape, L., & Kane, V. (2013). Ending Homelessness – Then What?. American Journal of Public Health, O’Connell, M. J., Kasprow, W. J., & Rosenheck, R. A. (2013). The impact of current alcohol and drug use on outcomes among homeless veterans entering supported housing. Psychological Services, and Tsai, J. & Kasprow, W. J. & Kane, V. & Rosenheck, R. A. (2014). Street Outreach and Other Forms of Engagement with Literally Homeless Veterans. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. The first article is by Thomas O’Toole works with the National Center for Homelessness among Veterans and the Department of Veteran Affairs. In his 2013 article Ending Homelessness – Then What he collaborated with others who also work with the Department of Veteran Affairs. In this article he is partial to what the Department of Veterans Affairs is doing to help the homeless veterans. He explains how the Department of Veteran Affairs has a strategy in place to help along with the government to end veteran and at-risk homelessness (O’Toole, Pape, & Kane, 2013). O’Toole’s article is a good source for multiple information coming from someone who works with the homeless and the Department of Veteran Affairs. The second article is that of M.J. O’Connell is with Yale University School of Medicine, W.J. Kasprow, and R.A. Rosenheck also work at Yale University School of Medicine giving them the credentials for the topic of the impact alcohol and drugs have on homeless veterans. She states in the article that 26 to 38% of homeless veterans are dependent upon alcohol or drugs (O’Connell, Kasprow, & Rosenheck, 2013). The argument is that a majority of the homeless veteran community is dependent on alcohol or drugs. This has been studied on many different levels and is a known fact. There is far fewer veterans that have steady housing that abuse drugs and alcohol. Through the study you can clearly see that though there is a large percentage of abuse there are still more that are not dependent on drugs or alcohol. The third article is by J. Tsai who holds a PhD as does W. Kasprow, V. Kane has a MSW, and R. Rosenheck is a MD. All them have credentials and work with the Veterans Affairs New England Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center. These guys are characterizing a street outreach program. The people that go out on the street outreach program let veterans know that there are many options for getting not only medical and mental health care but also are told where they can go to receive food and shelter (Tsai, Kasprow, Kane, & Rosneheck, 2014). The more homeless veterans that can be reached one way or the other is more veterans that are likely to get the help that they need. Often veterans do not want to ask for so if there is a street outreach finding these people hopefully they are more willing as they see people really do care about them. With the help of President Barack Obama the White House issued a plan of action to end homelessness by the end of 2015 (About the Initiative - Homeless Veterans, 2014). President Barack Obama stated “We are not going to rest until every veteran who has fought for America has a home in America.” This initiative was issued in 2010. Since the initiative according to the Point-in-Time Counts of 2014 the number of homeless veterans looks to down 33 percent since the kickoff. The Department of Veteran Affairs is working on multiple partnerships to expand the help for veterans (About the Initiative - Homeless Veterans, 2014). The Department of Veteran Affairs offers multiple services such as healthcare, housing solutions, job training, and multiple other services to help our veterans depending on the individual needs of the veteran. Department of Veteran Affairs is committed to achieving the milestone of having zero homeless veterans by the end of 2015 (About the Initiative - Homeless Veterans, 2014). The federal government initiative called “Opening Doors” was supposed to end homelessness by the end of 2015 for veterans and other “chronic homeless people” (ElBoghdady, 2014). Chronic homeless people are those who have been on the streets or in shelters for a year or more (ElBoghdady, 2014). Due to budget shortfalls like many other government plans the plan has been pushed back to the end of 2016 (ElBoghdady, 2014). While this is a sad thought and seems almost as though the homeless community is being put on the back burner. I hope that in the end the government sticks by the plan to get everyone off the streets eventually. Below are several charts that show the increases and decreases in our homeless people whether they are a veteran or non-veteran (ElBoghdady, 2014).

The challenge of ending veteran homelessness by 2015 as seen above had to be pushed back to the end 2016. The Department of Veteran Affairs has launched an evidenced based and data driven strategy (O’Toole, T., Pape, L., & Kane, V., 2013). Their partnership with federal and local agencies have helped increase access to healthcare benefits, employment, and housing for at risk and homeless veterans. In this article the author states valid points in naming the Department of Veteran Affairs working on the homeless veteran issues.

While there are many causes for our veterans being homeless some of them the veteran may not be able to help. Mental and health problems may have caused the veteran to lose their job, family, and housing. As we all know the economy is not always great either and if a company shuts down and the veteran is disabled they may not be able to find work. Others may have been sexually abused while in the military and are not comfortable with others. These veterans may be harder to find and be able to get them the help that they need.

Street outreach I think is a great program and an important step to getting our homeless veterans the help they need. Street outreach is defined as meeting the individuals on the streets to inform them of how to get access to the care they need, how to get housing, and other services they may need (Tsai, J., Kasprow, W. J., Kane, V. & Rosenheck, R. A., 2014). The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest integrated healthcare network in the United States. The Point-in-Time Count in 2013 for homeless veterans was 57,382. While this is a large number 23,154 veterans were identified as being unsheltered or living on the streets (Perl, L., 2014).

The Department of Veterans Affairs have homeless outreach managers at the facilities. They conduct in person assessments to gather information. This manager collects background information such as homeless history and health status. They will also collect basic information like age, gender, marital status, years of education, military status, and if they have any children under the age of 18 that they have custody of. The manager collecting this information will use this information to verify and gather information needed to help the veteran find a job or home along with any other services.
Taking care of our homeless veterans is an important part to the VA health system. 30 Community based outpatient clinics reported that the rural homeless veterans they were in contact with had many different reasons for their homelessness (Adler, G., Prichett, L. R., Kauth, M. R., &Mott, J., 2014). Out of those that were reported 57% were substance abuse, 53% was due to unemployment, and 45% of those veterans had a mental illness as to why they are now homeless. During this report they broke down the rural homeless veterans as most of your VA community based clinics are in rural areas not close to a major facility. Accessing the Principles of Active Citizenship

Principles of an active citizenship to end veteran homelessness could have a large impact on a large group of people. Within the research the more people that are made aware of a problem the more get involved. If every person did something to help a homeless veteran or a non-veteran the homeless community would be better off. The goal to end veteran homelessness was put in place in 2010 with an ending date of 2015. Though with budget setbacks it was pushed to 2016 (O’Toole, T., Pape, L., & Kane, V., 2013). Being active in the community not only helps the homeless people in the community but everyone else also. If one person can help get one other person off the streets then we have helped society. Our homeless veterans often just want someone to talk to that is not a medical professional or another homeless veteran. The government has the plan to have all homeless veterans off the streets and have a roof over their head by the end of 2016. I believe that there will continue to be some veterans who fall through the cracks of the plan. The Department of Veteran Affairs and the government should have a long term plan in place. Having the street outreach teams and opening up more VA clinics in communities would allow for more veterans to get care without waiting for long periods of time. Being involved with the VA personally they are working and striving to help as many veterans as possible. Academic Knowledge and Impact of Social Elements

There are many social elements now including networking, Facebook, Twitter, and any other communication. Veteran homelessness is an important contemporary topic. Our veterans should not be living on the streets and as a human we should care about one another. Sharing and talking about the issue of homeless veterans should be known around the United States. Locally in my area there is a church that runs a veterans only house. The church felt the need to and want to help get as many homeless veterans off the street. They have around 200 rooms and give these veterans a new lease on life. Not only do they give them a place to live at no charge; they teach them life skills including cooking, job skills, and even helping get a higher education. They also make sure that the veterans are getting the help they need from the VA including taking them to their appointments.

About the Initiative - Homeless Veterans. (2014). Retrieved from Department of Veterans Affairs website: Adler, G., Prichett, L. R., Kauth, M. R., &Mott, J. (2015). Staff perceptions of homeless veterans’ needs and available services at community-based outpatient clinics. Journal of Rural Mental Health, 39(1), 46-53. doi: 10.1037/rmh0000024 ElBoghdady, D. (2014, October 31). These five charts show the progress and challenges in fighting homelessness - The Washington Post [Web log post]. Retrieved from Leddy, M., Stefanovics, E., & Rosenheck, R. (2014). Health and well-being of homeless veterans participating in transitional and supported employment: Six-month outcomes. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, 51(1), 161-17. doi: 10.1682/JRRD.2013.01.0011 National Alliance to End Homelessness: VA Homelessness Programs. (2015). Retrieved from O’Connell, M. J., Kasprow, W. J., & Rosenheck, R. A. (2013). The impact of current alcohol and drug use on outcomes among homeless veterans entering supported housing. Psychological Services, 10(2). 241-249. doi:10.1037/a0030816 O’Toole, T., Pape, L., & Kane, V. (2013). Ending Homelessness – Then What?. American Journal of Public Health, 103(S2), S185-7. doi: 10.2105/A{JH.2013.301730 Perl, L. (2014, November 13). Veterans and Homelessness. Retrieved from Smelson, D. A., Kline, A., Kuhn, J., Rodrigues, S., O’Connor, K., Fisher, W., Sawh, L., Kane, V. (2013). A wraparound treatment engagement intervention for homeless veterans with co-occurring disorders. Psychological Services, 10(2), 161-167. doi:10.1037/a0030948 State of Health. (2014, December 22). Video: San Francisco Homeless Veterans Get Permanent Place to Live | State of Health Blog from KQED News [Video file]. Retrieved from

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