Those who served our country should not have to endure homelessness. Unaddressed physical and mental health issues due to military service, unemployment and self-medication are the principal causes of homelessness. Care for those who served is also a national priority and now is an opportune time to capitalize on federal programs and funding to supplement the state's investment to eliminate veteran homelessness
According to the Federal VA, veteran homelessness in Washington State declined by 85% from 2008 to 2012. WDVA convened local, federal, corporate and not-for-profit entities to form regional coalitions that pool resources in order to serve veterans seamlessly. The decrease in veteran homelessness has plateaued. The remaining 15%, will be the most difficult to serve and will require a strategies reset to ensure the downward trend continues.
We are collaborating with COM, DSHS, County Human and Health Services agencies and the Interagency Council on homelessness on new approaches to increase sustainable housing options, provide military culture awareness to better serve veterans and capitalize on federal opportunities to fund interventions. A renewed focus on prevention is in the planning stages through estate management, community education, pairing veterans with service and companion animals and serving transitioning service members before exiting the military.
Washington State needs a seamless client management system that works across all agencies to identify veterans (and other Washingtonians) in need and track services to ensure timely interventions, maximize veterans benefits and prevent fraud and abuse.