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Veterans Experiencing Homelessness
Social Worker Spotlight: Vangie Ligons
“Over the past few years, Ms. Evangelina "Vangie" Ligons has led the transformation of the Greater Los Angeles’s HUD-VASH program, and with over 5,000 Veterans currently housed is the largest program in the nation. She paved the way for innovative practices, improved collaboration across service lines and with community stakeholders, implemented processes to increase access to housing and clinical services for Veterans, and assisted with national efforts focused on integrating data and operations to inform policy development and access to care. Vangie has proven to be a compassionate and humble leader, who motivates her team, stands strong on her principals, and is always willing to think outside the box to ensure that Veterans receive the services they need and that her staff are supported. Most recently, Vangie was selected as acting Clinical Director for GLA’s Community Engagement and Reintegration Service (CERS) and tasked with providing clinical leadership to VHA’s largest homeless program. Over the years, I’ve worked closely with Vangie and her bravery, intelligence, dedication, loyalty, and work ethic exemplify social work leadership and commitment to the most vulnerable Veterans.”
— Nicole Harelik
National Coordinator, Office of Analytics and Operational Intelligence, VHA Homeless Program Office.
Workplace & VISN
Los Angeles, CA, VISN 22
How long have you been employed by the VA?
Why did you become a social worker? What do you like about working in homeless programs?
I tell people I became a social worker because I feel like I was called to it. I am a natural helper. I took a course in junior college while still in high school and they talked about a psychiatric social worker — my best friend and I looked at each other at the same time and she said, “that’s you” and I was saying, “that’s me”.
I love the mission. It is huge but there is so much room to grow and develop the program to meet the mission. I often say it is like Christmas when you see someone get keys to a home that they haven’t had in years.
Who is recognizing you for 2021 SW Appreciation Month and why?
I can’t speak to why. She was here at HPO when I came into the program as a supervisor and has seen me grow as a coordinator. We have worked very closely, and she and her team have been an integral part in helping Los Angeles VASH get to where we are, and continues to support us now.
What do you do for fun? Favorite Quote? What else would you like to share about yourself?
This year has obviously changed what we all do for fun, but I do still take my fur baby, Sawyer, for walks and to the dog park. I enjoy anytime I get to spend with family and friends. I think a good massage is integral to keeping up the pace it takes to be a homeless program coordinator.
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” — Abraham Lincoln