West Texas VA Health Care System
Veteran Touts Access
A homeless Veteran walked into a Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) inquiring about a large cyst on his forehead wanting it removed. Additionally, he expressed concern about the tent he had been living in for the past three years. He asked the medical provider, "if surgery is required, could the surgery site get infected due to his living conditions in the woods?" The Veteran was immediately referred to the VA’s Homeless Veterans program for assistance. This story has a happy ending. This Veteran not only received the appropriate health care he required but also received assistance to move into a stable and appropriate living environment and assistance obtaining his first full-time job in fourteen years.
This Veteran was helped by the VA's HUD/VASH program, a partnership between the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Housing & Urban Development. The HUD/VASH program is one of many programs created by the Department of Veteran Affairs to end Veteran homelessness.
Since June 2010, the West Texas VA Health Care System (WTVAHCS) has added several new programs and additional staff to address Veteran homelessness, to include Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV), Social Workers for Substance Use Disorders and Veterans Justice Outreach, and five (5) Senior HUD/VASH Social Workers.
The HCHV staff provide support to community partner agencies that receive funding to assist homeless Veterans with first month's rent and security deposits.
The HCHV staff serve as members of military/Veteran coalitions in Abilene, Permian Basin, and San Angelo, Texas. These coalitions are involved in planning and facilitating Homeless Veteran Stand-Downs. Two stand downs are planned for 2014 in San Angelo and the Permian Basin. The HCHV staff conduct two Homeless Veterans Summits annually. HCHV staff provide community-based emergency temporary housing through a contractual arrangement that permits the VA to provide emergency shelter beds to homeless Veterans.
Since June 2010 the WTVAHCS Homeless Veteran’s program has:
- Screened and provided services to 484 homeless Veterans.
- Graduated 898 formerly homeless Veterans from the HUD/VASH program.
There are currently 150 formerly homeless Veterans (families) housed with a HUD/VASH voucher approved by the WTVAHCS Homeless Veteran’s program.