Provisions to Help Homeless Veterans Introduced by Patrick Murphy Pass the House
Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill that included provisions to help homeless veterans introduced by Pennsylvania Congressman and former Army Captain Patrick Murphy (D-8th District). Rep. Murphy introduced these provisions to alleviate the problem of homelessness among veterans and to right a shameful wrong. The bill that included these initiatives is the Veterans' Health Care Improvement Act of 2007 - HR 2874 - introduced by Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME). The first provision from Murphy's bill would make permanent a program to identify service members on active duty who are at risk of becoming homeless. The second provision from Murphy's bill calls on the Veterans Administration to take steps to make their homeless vets programs more accommodating for an increasing number of female veterans. It is estimated that there are over 3,300 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania and at least 550 in the greater Philadelphia area alone. Over the last three years, as many as 1,300 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have participated in homeless outreach programs by the VA or in their own communities. This legislation seeks to deliver on the promises our nation makes to those who wear the uniform. The bill with these two Murphy's provisions passed the House last night.
"As someone who spent 10 years in the Army and walked the streets of Baghdad, I cannot stand by while more of my fellow soldiers go hungry and seek shelter," said Congressman Patrick Murphy. "It is shameful that so many veterans are homeless today. These brave American veterans - who once faced down our enemies - shouldn't have to face one more night out on the street."
"It is no surprise that Congressman Murphy has taken a leadership role in helping our nation's veterans," said Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME) whose legislation incorporated Rep. Murphy's provisions. "There are as many as 200,000 veterans on the streets each night. This is a shame on our nation that must be addressed. The provisions from Congressman Murphy's bill are critical to ending this shame and helping these veterans find their way home."
Text of Congressman Murphy's Floor Speech (As Delivered):
"Thank you Mr. Speaker and thank you Mr. Chairman.
"Mr. Speaker I rise today to give voice to a terrible injustice.
"On any given night in America, nearly 200,000 veterans go homeless
" And twice as many will go homeless over the course of the year.
"This is shameful.
"In my district in Southeastern Pennsylvania this problem is very real. There is more than 3,300 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania and at least 550 in the greater Philadelphia area alone.
"These are veterans who saw combat in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
"And as someone who spent 10 years in the Army and walked the streets of Baghdad, I cannot stand by while more of my fellow soldiers go hungry and seek shelter.
"Over the last three years as many as 1,300 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have participated in homeless outreach programs by the VA or in their community.
"Who knows how many others went without help.
"That's why, Mr. Speaker, I proudly support the Veterans Health Care Improvement Act which looks after those who have sacrificed so much for our country.
"This much-needed bill makes permanent a program to identify at-risk servicemembers to prevent them from ever becoming homeless once they leave the military.
"With a rapidly increasing number of women veterans, the bill also instructs the VA to make their programs for homeless veterans more accommodating for our female veterans.
"I was proud to introduce these important provisions and I thank the gentleman from California, Mr. Filner, and the gentleman from Maine, Mr. Michaud for bringing this bill to the floor and their leadership on this issue.
"These brave American veterans - who once faced down our enemies - shouldn't have to face one more night out on the street.
"I yield back the balance of my time."
Prior to being elected to Congress, Patrick Murphy served as a Captain in the U.S. Army. He was deployed to Bosnia and then to Iraq. In Iraq he served with the 82nd Airborne where he was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. He is the first and only Iraq war veteran to serve in Congress.