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Public Statements

End Veteran Homelessness -- Hon. Bob Filner

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, research tells us that veterans are over represented in the homeless population. VA is the largest single provider of homeless services reaching about 25 percent of that population.

* VA operates a wide variety of homeless veterans programs designed to provide outreach, supportive services, health care as well as counseling and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. They rely heavily on their partnerships with the community and faith based organizations to provide these services.

* Many of VA's homeless population:

* Have had a serious psychiatric problem defined as psychosis, mood disorder or PTSD.

* Were dependent on alcohol and/or drugs.

* Were dually diagnosed with serious psychiatric and substance abuse problems.

* Have suffered from a serious medical problem.

* The number of homeless women veterans is rising.

* Prior to becoming homeless, a large number of veterans at risk have struggled with PTSD or have addictions acquired during, or worsened by, their military service. These conditions can interrupt their ability to keep a job, establish savings, and in some cases, maintain family harmony.

* Veterans' family, social, and professional networks may have been broken due to extensive mobility while in service or lengthy periods away from their hometowns and their civilian jobs. These problems are directly traceable to their experience in military service or to their return to civilian society without having had appropriate transitional supports.

* VA reports that approximately 1,500 homeless veterans are from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. This is a growing population. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless.

* Concern has been expressed by many that such an early showing of more recent veterans in the homeless population does not bode well. It is also believed that the intense repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

* We know the Department of Veterans Affairs has many programs to address currently homeless veterans, and they do a great job. However, the most important piece to ending homelessness among the Nation's veteran population is to prevent it in the first place.

* It is unacceptable that even one of our veterans sleep on the streets or in shelters after risking their lives on behalf of this country.

* My legislation, H.R. 806, will go a long way in strengthening our efforts to ultimately end homelessness.

* This bill increases funding to successful programs for homeless veterans; requires each VA medical center that provides supporting housing services to provide housing counselors; requires housing counselors to conduct landlord research; strengthens permanent housing programs, and pays special interest to the needs of homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.

* The time to act is now. We cannot afford to let history repeat itself.

* I urge your support of this important legislation.

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