New York Veteran's Story
A Veteran Success Story in Ending Veteran Homelessness
Peer Support Opens Doors to Housing and Treatment
A New York Veteran's Story | Oct. 23, 2015
Like other Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom, this New York City man returned from multiple tours of duty with severe combat trauma. His situation led to a dependency on opioids and benzodiazepine. Although he detoxed multiple times at the emergency room, his undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) contributed to a hesitancy to enter a longer term treatment program. His problems compounded, and he faced chronic homelessness. The Veteran needed help, but first needed to trust in the available system of care.
Enter the HUD-VASH Housing First Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, part of the VA New York Harbor Health Care System.
The team first convinced the Veteran to apply for a Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher to stabilize his housing situation. Then the team’s peer-support specialist worked to earn his trust and open the door to treatment options. A breakthrough came when the specialist discovered the Veteran’s desire to apply for a service-connected claim through a psychiatrist at another facility. By knowing the Veteran’s preference for care, the specialist found an opening to engage with him about the destabilizing and near-lethal effect of his drug use. Ultimately the team successfully encouraged the Veteran to accept a referral to the VA Medical Center Monroe Campus for inpatient residential rehabilitation services.
The Veteran is now three months into his recovery. Since completing the rehab program, he graduated from the Montrose PTSD and Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) programs. Through the support of these programs, he is learning how to cope with the effects of PTSD and using the HUD-VASH voucher to exit homelessness.