Government and Regulations

Veteran Homelessness Drops 47% Since 2010

President Obama touts progress in address at Disabled American Veterans conference.


 

In the latest Department of Housing and Urban Development annual Point-in-Time (PIT) estimate of America’s homeless population, President Barak Obama revealed that since 2010 the rate of homelessness among veterans has dropped 47%. The January count found 13,000 homeless veterans, although the count fell well short of the President’s pledge to completely eliminate homelessness by 2016. “We will not stop until every veteran who fought for America has a home in America,” President Obama told the national Disabled American Veterans (DAV) convention on August 1. “This is something we’ve got to get done.”

“The dramatic decline in veteran homelessness is the result of the Obama administration’s investments in permanent supportive housing solutions, such as HUD-VASH [Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing] and Supportive Services for Veteran Families programs, extensive community partnerships, coordinated data and outreach, and other proven strategies that put Veterans first,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald in a release. According to the VA, Virginia, Connecticut and 27 cities and towns across the country have “effectively ended” veteran homelessness.

In the DAV speech, President Obama also touted a number of VA health care programs, ranging from rural telehealth initiatives to increased funding for prosthetics and access to women’s health providers at all VA clinics. Pointing out that VA funding has increased during his administration, the President noted that “We’ve made VA benefits available to more than 2 million veterans who didn’t have them before.” The President also pointed out that veterans can apply for VA health care “…from any device, including your smartphone—simple, easy, in as little as 20 minutes.”

The White House also announced that the Million Veteran Program (MVP) had reached a new milestone with 500,000 veterans enrolled. About 62% of MVP enrollees reported a current or past diagnosis of high blood pressure and about one-third reported tinnitus. Also, nearly one-third, or 32%, of veterans present with a history or current diagnosis of cancer. “We believe MVP will accelerate our understanding of disease detection, progression, prevention and treatment by combining this rich clinical, environmental and genomic data,” said VA Under Secretary for Health David J. Shulkin, MD, in a statement. “VA has a deep history of innovation and research. The MVP will allow the nation’s top researchers to perform the most cutting-edge science to treat some of the nation’s most troubling diseases.”

“What this does is it gives us a better understanding of genetics, which will allow us to improve treatments for things like traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress, and diabetes, and cancer,” President Obama told the DAV audience. “And that won’t just help veterans. It will help all Americans. And it’s just one more example of how our veterans keep serving our country even after they come home.”

While Acknowledging the VA’s challenges to meet the needs of veterans, President Obama was insistent that VA care was essential for veterans. “Study after study shows that in many areas, like mental health, the quality of care at the VA is often better than in private care,” he told the DAV members. “So let’s listen to our veterans, who are telling us: Don’t destroy VA health care. Fix it and make it work, but don’t break our covenant with our veterans.”

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