The Transition Home

We’re Making Progress on Homeless Veterans!

Earlier last week, the Washington Post informed us that we are coming within striking distance of eliminating Veteran Homelessness. Over 33,000 homeless veterans are now off the street due to the voucher program which, including all administrative costs, will run us about $10,000 a veteran per year. That’s it. Far cheaper than jail. There are people who spend more on vacations, forget their own housing.

It’s a bit of good news in an environment that continually shifts and changes between horrible situations that veterans face versus this ambiguous cloud of pride and suppor they receive from the “sea of good will”.

But there’s something interesting which as made this effort so much more successful than all the rest that I’m not sure if people are paying attention to: they eliminated the requirement to go to drug rehabilitation before coming to the VA for housing. You see, previously, it was thought as a ridiculous handout to provide free housing to someone who was on drugs. Surely, they would never get a job if they were continuing to use. Why would Americans want to spend tax dollars housing those who are not making any attempt to ween themselves off of the national system?

But now, we might have a different set of priorities. We realize that keeping the vets on the street actually can exacerbate their substance abuse problems. I applaud the VA for making that decision. Finding the home means getting a good night rest, it means getting a shower, getting a shave or haircut. It means being able to wake up and start the day fresh. Solving veteran homelessness is the first step to solving veteran employment, which is the first step in solving veteran drug use. It seems backwards in nature because, to the typical American, NOT doing drugs means FINDING a job and therefore having the capacity to BUY a house.

I find it interesting how transforming our conceptions of what is “normal” or “effective” can actually help us better affect those in dire situations


2 responses

  1. I appreciate you seeing the importance of adopting what is known as Housing First. While the VA is part of the solution, HUD really took the lead on this issue at the federal level. Furthermore, Housing First is endorsed as a best practice by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness – a coalition of 19 federal agencies seeking to end and prevent homelessness in America. While these service providers still do offer support services to help veterans with their various health-related needs, moving them into housing first is a necessary and important first step.

    2 January 12 at 20:49

  2. Whatever can house a needy vet sounds like a winner to me. I’m sure that many of them have trauma that they carry alone. They may seek solitude on the streets and drugs as an escape. There is hope and when they can’t reach out to us; I hope we reach out to them. They may feel like nobody cares; but we do care….and we embrace them with a prayer
    daily. The system lets us down to many times….this type of war is one that rattles the brains leaving trauma as a way of life. Brain injuries can be hard to move on in a normal way….but, where the medical profession falls short in helping….God can help when we reach out to Him for healing, for peace of mind.

    3 January 12 at 20:23

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