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By Mike Mullen and Steven A. Cohen
Our nation is finally emerging from one of the worst recessions in American history, yet for our military veterans there is no recovery in sight. The nation's unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. But the unemployment rate of our youngest military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan hovers at a stunning 29 percent.
SAN DIEGO -- Two dentists and two Navy dental corpsmen are working on the mouth of John Gardinier, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and now lives in Tijuana near the clinic where he can get methadone for his drug addiction.
"It's no good to have teeth that are rotten," Gardinier, 64, had said as he waited to be treated at the dental services area at the 25th annual Stand Down in San Diego for homeless and hard-luck military veterans. The relief effort brings together dozens of government agencies, nonprofits and volunteers to provide veterans with a variety of health and social services.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton convened the first White House Summit on Mental Health. The aim of the conference and the public campaign that followed was, in part, to educate the media on the moral and ethical imperative related to dispelling the stigma associated with mental illness. In a radio address to announce the conference, Mr. Clinton said, "Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all."
In recent years, the Department of Defense has made unprecedented progress toward eliminating the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues affecting service members. This cultural shift within the military is a sea change, as more and more of our service members are seeking and receiving the support they need and deserve from a grateful nation. In the face of that progress, itâ€™s unfortunate that some in the media continue to perpetuate a stigma linking military service to mental illness and violence.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking decisive action to end Veteran homelessness in five years. All Veterans at risk for homelessness or attempting to exit homelessness must have easy access to programs and services. VA offers a variety of resources, programs, and benefits which are detailed below.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to hire 1,900 psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, clinicians and clerical employees, a 10 percent increase in its mental health staff. That's welcome progress for a system that is struggling to meet the needs of veterans. But there are questions about whether it will be enough â€” and whether the department is truly facing up to its problems.
By Nancy Benac, Associated Press
WASHINGTON--Michelle Obama has been everywhere from a West Point mess hall to a NASCAR speedway in the past year to drum up support for military families, and now she's capping the yearlong effort with a two-day, four-state tour to take stock of what's been done.
Agencies to expand services within state
Veterans homeless shelter receives VA funding: Veterans homeless shelter receives VA funding
Officials with state-based nonprofit groups that provide shelter and other emergency services to at-risk military veterans say the $847,000 grant awarded them Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs is a windfall that will provide tangible benefits soon.
All Things Considered (NPR), 4:10 PM
MELISSA BLOCK: You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News.
This month, more than a dozen homeless veterans in Connecticut will finally have a place to call their own, thanks to the American Legion. They'll stay at the legion's post in the small town of Jewett City. Lucy Nalpathanchil from member station WNPR reports.
WORCESTER — In the years after John A. Doherty left the Air Force, he was diagnosed with chronic depression, worked a series of what he calls “meaningless jobs” and struck out at three job fairs.
No more, he claims. Mr. Doherty, 36, landed a bed at the Veterans Inc. shelter for homeless veterans in Worcester three months ago and, about three weeks ago, started a temporary full-time job at Eaton Corp. assembling computer server cabinets.
Nonprofit — Soldier On — provides affordable housing, support and job training
Four years ago, Michael Shindler's home was a sleeping bag under a pine tree in a park in Pittsfield, Mass. Today, the 54-year-old Air Force veteran, recovering alcoholic and mentor to at-risk kids lives just up the street, but worlds away in his own gleaming apartment. He also owns a share of the complex and has a voice in how the place is run.
By Eric Tucker and Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Misha McLamb helped keep fighter jets flying during a military career that took her halfway around the world to the Persian Gulf. But back home, the Navy aircraft specialist is barely getting by after a series of blows that undid her settled life.
She was laid off from work last year and lost custody of her daughter. She's grappled with alcohol abuse, a carry-over from heavy-drinking Navy days. She spent nights in her car before a friend's boyfriend wrecked it, moving later to a homeless shelter where the insulin needles she needs for her diabetes were stolen.
By Steve Vogel
Despite a proposed budget that would boost spending for veterans, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee accused the White House on Wednesday of leaving veterans "twisting in the wind" by refusing to declare the Department of Veterans Affairs exempt from automatic cuts to reduce the deficit.
By David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin, CNN Special Investigations Unit
Birmingham, Alabama-- A national charity that vows to help disabled veterans and their families has spent tens of millions on marketing services, all the while doling out massive amounts of candy, hand sanitizer bottles and many other unnecessary items to veteran aid groups, according to a CNN investigation.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is processing more than a million disability compensation claims a year, for veterans of every age and era, whether they served in wartime or during periods of relative calm.
But that has not been enough to keep the claims backlog from rising through current wars and the expansion of compensation eligibility to more medical conditions, particularly for veterans who served in Vietnam.
By Aamer Madhani, USA Today
WASHINGTON â€“ For months, President Obama and his surrogates have been spotlighting his efforts on behalf of military veterans â€” a group they think potentially could play an important role in determining who wins several battleground states in November.
Petraeus -- Holly, that is -- makes mark on military by putting herself between soldiers and swindlers
By Rick Hampson, USA Today
When 18,000 members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division flew back to Fort Campbell, Ky., in 2004 after a year in Iraq, Holly Petraeus was there to meet them, no matter the hour, the weather or her other duties.
Rep. Howard Waxman says the Veterans Affairs bureaucracy is impenetrable. His opponent says Waxman hasn't tried hard enough.
By Steve Lopez
Los Angeles Times
September 26, 2012
Bob Rosebrock and I sat under a tree on the West Los Angeles Department of Veterans Affairs property, discussing his pet peeve: How the country is failing its veterans. There was plenty to talk about.
Nearby was the gleaming $253-million California Veterans Home, opened with great fanfare more than two years ago, with local politicians lining up to take bows. But today, in a region with an estimated 8,000 homeless veterans, many of whom can't get access to care, roughly four-fifths of the 396 rooms are empty.
'Blatantly misleading' enlistment agreements acknowledged
At the time, the deal seemed irresistible to Eric Hickam: Give six years to the Army, a recruiter told him in 2003, and you can get a $50,000 "kicker" -- the Army College Fund.
When his payments started coming last fall, his first year at Columbia University in New York City, the amount fell far short of what Hickam had anticipated. He thought the college fund was a bonus on top of his GI Bill, worth about $35,000 at the time. The Army says the $50,000 figure was a total of all benefits. Last month, it denied Hickam's appeal seeking $50,000 more than what he's receiving for his GI Bill.
By Sonya Padgett
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
There are about 1,350 homeless veterans in the valley, Derby estimates, which is a significant decrease from the 4,000 homeless veterans of a few years ago. For every three homeless people they make contact with, one is a veteran. About half of the veterans they meet will accept some form of help.
"We find the majority just want that conversation, that relationship," Derby says. "They just enjoy our company. They may not want services but they do want someone who will actually stop and listen to them."
For Johnnie Larmore, a veteran of three combat tours in Vietnam, living with post-traumatic stress disorder means bursts of anger followed by wells of depression.
Last week, the Port Angeles man left a recently expanded treatment program at VA Puget Sound American Lake Division in Lakewood. He calls it “the best staff and the best facility” he’s seen in his 41 years seeking help coping with Army combat-related PTSD.
Also at conference, HUD secretary calls for more funding
By Steve Vogel
An Obama administration effort to end veteran homelessness by 2015 requires more urgency, the secretaries of the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development said Wednesday.
VA pursuing strategic, and some say lofty, goal of ending problem by 2015
WASHINGTON -- On a cold night in Monmouth County, N.J., a lone dishwasher stayed late, taking on extra work to buy time. The restaurant's owners, trying to close up, guessed the man had no place to go. And when they tried to find him one, they struck out.
The restaurant is owned by rock legend Jon Bon Jovi's foundation, and Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Hurley, discovered that night that finding services for the homeless is no easy task. For the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is trying to tackle the problem of veterans' homelessness, figuring out how to make the task easier is a pivotal goal.
Motorcycle rally marks 25th year of taking D.C. by storm
By Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times
For Walt Koren, it would be easier to know that his old friend is dead. Instead, he's lived with uncertainty for 41 years. Whether William Patrick Millner, an Army Air Cavalry pilot in Vietnam and high school classmate of Mr. Koren's, survived a crash landing in Laos in 1971, and whether he remains in captivity somewhere in Southeast Asia, are questions that haunt him to this day.
Homeless Veteran in need of help? Call 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838)
The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) has founded a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline to ensure that homeless Veterans or Veterans at-risk for homelessness have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors.
Blessings is a non profit organization that feeds the homeless and do food distributions for the low income and for some military families. Blessings provides help for veterans and families of veterans by catering to over 500 families per month.
The ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty provides help for veterans and families of veterans by providing this document containing Pro bono Legal Resources for Veterans and Military Families.
We grabbed the useful telephone numbers and links to other websites so you can access them here whenever the VA Website is down for maintenance. (Please note: These phone numbers and links are present on the VA website even when the website is down for maintenance. However, it may be difficult to find what you need because the information on the website does not appear in the normal format.)
Veterans Crisis Line - 800-273-8255 and Press 1
- Chat online at http://www.VeteransCrisisLine.net
- Send a text message to 838255
- Service members and their families and friends can call and text the Veterans Crisis Line numbers and can chat online at http://www.MilitaryCrisisLine.net
More important numbers and website links below...
After running into a young homeless veteran at a mall, Adam decided there needed to be more programs out there to help vets reintegrate back into society.
In April 2010 he started Veterans Farm in Jacksonville, Florida.
The farm trains veterans during six to nine month fellowships and gets them back on their feet. Fellow Shawn Rankin came to farm from Michigan after no one would employ him due to injuries sustained serving in the Navy. He was homeless and now has a house and is starting a farm.
Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes (CBS) did a great report on Stand Down - an annual encampment in San Diego where veterans can find hope, help and services. This is an informative report about how people help homeless veterans.
Overview of how legal professionals can help the Department of Veterans Affairs end homelessness among Veterans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is adding 34 new locations around the country to serve as housing for homeless and at-risk veterans.
HELP USA, one of the largest nonprofit housing organizations for the homeless in the country, is taking steps to ensure an adequate safety net for soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The organization has specialized transitional and permanent supportive housing residences and employment services for veterans in NYC, Newark, Philadelphia and Las Vegas with projects in development in Washington DC and Maryland.
The organization today released a PSA film message featuring U.S. Ranger and Bronx native Robert LeBron, an Iraq war veteran who was forced to seek shelter in HELP USA's homeless shelter on Morris Avenue with his 14-year-old son.