Today, Congressman Al Green (TX-09), in conjunction with the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, hosted an event for Houston's homeless veterans. Attendees were provided with information about VA services and enjoyed live entertainment, games, as well as children's activities.
"The Michael E. DeBakey VA Center is located in my Congressional district and I am committed to working with this great medical facility to help our veterans who have sacrificed so much for this Nation. I talked to the director, Mr. Adam Walmus, and expressed my interest in holding an event to help our homeless veterans and he was very receptive. His staff has done an outstanding job and I hope the veterans who attend this event today will obtain useful information about how the local VA can provide them with assistance," Congressman Green said.
According to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, in recent years hundreds of thousands of veterans have spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. In addition, many other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support from family and friends, substance abuse, or mental health issues.
"These are our fellow Americans who have risked their lives to keep us safe and defend our liberty," Congressman Green said. "I think we should do our best to ensure they have a stable place to call home. There are multiple VA programs that can help them a great deal and events like these are a perfect way to reach out to them."
Congressman Green also referred to current efforts aimed at ending veterans' homelessness in Congress and by the federal government. Just last month, and with overwhelming bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by Congressman Green, the Homes for Heroes Act of 2011 (HR 3298). The bill improves and strengthens the collaboration between the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on the issue of homeless veterans.
In 2010, the VA launched a five-year campaign to eradicate homelessness among veterans through programs that involve providing safe housing and medical attention, as well as employment opportunities and benefits assistance. The plan places emphasis on cooperation between all levels of government (federal, state, local and tribal), private, faith-based, and non-profit organizations.
Congressman Green noted a desire that the event be held annually. "I would like these block parties to become a tradition that will grow in the near future. I want to ensure our veterans receive help that can bring a very positive change to their lives and also reinforce the concept of community in our city."