The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made impressive strides in reducing homelessness among veterans. Unfortunately, in some major cities with large homeless populations such as New York City and Los Angeles numbers of homeless veterans are rising again. VA has many programs to address homelessness, but most lack permanent authorization.
S. 1072 is a comprehensive bill that would seek to improve services for homeless veterans by:
- Authorizing per diem payments for furnishing care for a dependent of a homeless veteran while the veteran receives services from a VA grant and per diem recipient;
- Instructing VA to partner with public and private entities to provide legal services to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness;
- Expanding authority of VA to provide dental care to certain eligible homeless veterans who are enrolled for care, and who are receiving housing assistance or care provided by or paid for by VA;
- Permanently authorizing VA’s referral and counseling programs for veterans at risk of homelessness or transitioning from certain institutions.
- Extending authority for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing.
- Requiring a GAO study of the effectiveness of VA’s homeless veterans programs’ and improvement in addressing environment of care standards for women veterans.
DAV supports this bill, in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 239, which calls for continued support and sustained and sufficient funding for VA’s initiative to eliminate homelessness and improve supportive programs by increasing its capacity for health care, specialized services for mental health, substance-use disorders as well as vision and dental care. This resolution also urges Congress to continue to authorize and appropriate funds for competitive grants to community-based and public organizations including the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide health and supportive services to homeless veterans placed in permanent housing.
Please use the prepared letter below to urge your Senator to cosponsor and support S. 1072, the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2017.
Thank you for your advocacy efforts and support of the Commander’s Action Network.
Senator John Tester introduced S. 1333, the Tribal HUD-VASH Act of 2017. This bill would allow Native American veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to receive rental assistance through the HUD-VASH program.
Legislation enacted in October 2015 required the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) to set up a demonstration program to allow Native American tribes entry into the HUD-VASH program. 26 of the 567 federally recognized Native American tribes received HUD-VASH vouchers under the current Tribal HUD-VASH pilot, which expired last year.
The Tribal HUD-VASH Act of 2017 will re-authorize the program and ensure that at least five percent of all HUD-VASH vouchers are set aside for Native American tribes and tribal housing authorities to address veteran homelessness. The measure would require HUD and the VA to modify the initiative through tribal consultation to better guide available resources to homeless Native American veterans. The bill also directs the Indian Health Service (IHS) to provide any assistance requested by HUD or the VA to implement the initiative and directs both agencies and the IHS to conduct a review of the initiative every five years.
This bill is in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 229, which directs DAV to support the rights and benefits earned by service-connected Native American and Alaska native veterans and Resolution No. 239, which urges Congress to continue to authorize and appropriate funds for competitive grants to community-based and public organizations, including HUD to provide health and supportive services to homeless veterans placed in permanent housing.
Please use the prepared letter to ask Senators to cosponsor and support passage of S. 1333, the Tribal HUD-VASH Act of 2017. Thank you for your efforts and support of the Commander’s Action Network.
Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT) introduced The Veterans Residential Care Choice Act (H.R. 5397) a bill that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay for eligible veterans to live at residential care facilities such as assisted living facilities licensed or certified by the State if the cost of care is lower than it would be at other care sites including VA hospitals, nursing care or community nursing home facilities. Currently, VA may help veterans find a residential care facility to live in, but veterans and their families have to pay for it.
The bill would also require any facility receiving VA payments to enter into an agreement with VA to ensure the facilities are adequate to serve the needs of veterans.
DAV Resolution 227 calls on Congress to expand the types of long-term care services and supports VA provides to veterans with service-related disabilities. DAV believes H.R. 5397 would add to the continuum of service options available to meet the long-term care needs of eligible veterans and therefore supports this legislation.
Please use the prepared letter below to contact your representative and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 5397, the Veterans Residential Care Choice Act.
S. 2402 would increase the number of women hired as peer counselors for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide prevention program to specifically address the special needs of women veterans.
Women veterans face unique challenges reintegrating into their communities after wartime deployments. In general, they are more likely to divorce, lack a social network, and be single parents. They are also more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, despite higher educational attainment than their male peers. Exposure to military sexual trauma and abuse of alcohol are complicating factors that also make them more prone to homelessness and suicide.
Women comprise a small, but growing portion of the veteran population using VA services. Unfortunately, many clinical providers are not knowledgeable about their duties and experience in military service. Peer specialists have been shown to be especially useful in engaging VA users in accessing needed mental health care. Ensuring that culturally competent women peer specialists are available will ensure increased understanding of women veterans most frequently cited needs such as child care, legal assistance and assistance with job placement or training and in identifying appropriate resources within and outside of VA to assist them.
We support this bill in accordance with DAV Resolution Nos. 225 and 245, which call for support of improved services for women veterans and enhanced mental health services, including increased use of peer specialists.
DAV is proud to support S. 2131, the VA Newborn Emergency Treatment Act. This bill would authorize the VA Secretary to provide payment for emergency transportation in cases where a newborn of a woman veteran requires treatment at a more specialized medical facility. If a veteran mother and infant are transported to another medical facility together, VA is authorized to pay for that transportation. Currently, VA lacks clear authority to pay for the transportation of the newborn infant alone. However, this legislation would provide such authority.
In concurrence with DAV resolution 225, which calls for enhancing women’s health care services, DAV believes women veterans deserve a robust maternity care benefit that allows their infants basic transportation coverage for care that would be covered under Medicaid and most private insurance plans. Maternity care is an important benefit to the large portion of women veterans who use VA services. Many women veterans for whom VA coordinates maternity care are at high-risk for pregnancy complications, including pre-term labor or low-birth weight newborns, because of service-connected conditions. Infants born to these mothers often require more specialized and intensive services after birth; however, not all hospitals have such services available and transportation for the infant, but not necessarily the mother becomes necessary.