Statistics show that a significant portion of the homeless population is composed of veterans. Homeless veterans include men and women as more women are joining the military now. I find it especially disheartening to know that those men and women who served our country are now living on the street.
If you ask what you can do to help end homelessness among veterans, here are a few tips:
- Collect personal items that the veteran can use, such as clothes, toiletries, or food items.
- Help the person find temporary housing in a shelter. Contact the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development at (202) 708-1112 to obtain a list of shelters in your area.
- Create a file of the person’s personal records, which will be necessary to get permanent housing, a job and other benefits. This file includes photo identification, birth certificate and a social security card. Obtain photo identification at your state’s motor vehicle office.
- Obtain a copy of the person’s military service and health records by sending a request to the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132-5100. You may fax the request to (314) 801-920.
- Contact the Veterans Administration at (800) 827-1000 to obtain a copy of the book known as “Federal Benefits for Veterans and Their Dependents.” If the person is eligible for a claim, identify a service representative, such as the American Legion or AMVETS to help file the claim.
- Encourage the person to obtain medical assistance through the local VA Medical Center. Find your local VA Medical Center through the Veterans Administration website or by calling (877) 222-8387. Obtain additional assistance through the National Health Care for the Homeless Council at (615) 226-2292.
- Assist the person in finding a job by calling the Department of Labor’s VETS Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program. Obtain the number for your local office at the Department of Labor’s website. For disabled veterans contact VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services at (877) 222-838.
- Establish an address where the person can receive mail. Options include a shelter, the local VA office, a church or a friend’s home.
- Other organizations provide assistance to homeless veterans, such as United Way, Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army.