By: Rep. Vicky Hartzler
As our economy continues to boom under this administration, we need to do more to ensure that our veterans share in our collective success. I am unambiguously committed to that cause.
This issue impacts all of our communities across the country. We see them on street corners across America in ragged clothing with tattered signs in hand. Their cardboard confession reads, “Homeless Vet, Please Help” and while their presence may cause a sympathetic reaction or feeling of guilt, we make every effort to avoid eye contact.
There are about 40,000 veterans struggling to put a roof over their head. Most are staying in shelters or transitional housing. A third of these veterans are living in cars, encampments or on the streets.
Addressing veteran homelessness goes beyond just talking points about educational and employment opportunities. In addition to these things, an adequate response to this alarming issue requires to look at health, mental status and an overall reintegration into society.
Welcome Home in Columbia, Missouri, is working to honor veterans and restore their lives. While Welcome Home does offer a transitional shelter, they do so while providing much more than a bed. Their support efforts are individualized and aimed to connect veterans with VA benefits, health care and recovery services.
Understanding that temporary shelters, while serving an important role, are not the long-term solution, Welcome Home works to provide rapid re-housing and link veterans with placement permanency. Through their VETS Work program, they provide job readiness training and help veterans secure employment by working with a strong and dedicated network of area employers.
Ending veteran homelessness is not just about providing a safe place to sleep. For some veterans at risk of homelessness, all they need to turn the corner is access to the disability benefits they earned during service.