Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System held a Homeless Stand Down for more than 100 homeless Veterans at its Tuskegee Campus on Sept. 17.
“Stand down is important based on Veterans being provided with a broad range of necessities to include food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance,” said Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program Manager, Jakia Sherrell-Thompson. “Veterans also have an opportunity to access shelter during the Stand Down with the goal of obtaining permanent housing.”
The annual event offered food, clothing, toiletries, haircuts, flu vaccinations, health care screenings, legal counseling, and job assistance for homeless Veterans in Central Alabama and Western Georgia. All VA facilities and clinics that administer COVID-19 vaccines accept walk-ins for all Veterans, spouses, and caregivers. This walk-in service ensures all Veterans enrolled in VA health care and those authorized under the SAVE LIVES Act have an opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccination from VA at a time convenient for them.
Homeless Veterans are a vulnerable population and offering services that can make a difference to their health and wellbeing is a top priority of CAVHCS.
“In past years, the Stand Down focused on both community agencies resources and VA. However, based on the pandemic this year, CAVHCS focused on ensuring that Veterans had access to VA programs that could assist with housing, medical and psychological support,” Sherrell-Thompson said. “Another important aspect of the Stand Down is Veterans have an opportunity to fellowship and be a support to one another.”
“Seeing all the smiling faces and the Vets out here together, a lot of camaraderie. The volunteer services and the great big heart of the community have helped so much. It’s been amazing,” Army Veteran Eric Brock said.
“One of the challenges that homeless Veterans are facing at this time during the pandemic is locating affordable housing. A top priority for homeless Veterans is secure, safe, and clean housing,” Sherrell-Thompson said.
VA has a permanent housing program – HUD-VASH that partners with the local housing authority. HUD provides rental assistance vouchers for privately-owned housing for Veterans. If a landlord is interested in helping homeless Veterans, they can reach out to the CAVHCS homeless program at 334-727-0550, extension 52549, and ask to speak with the HUD-VASH supervisor.
“Stand Down aims to bring together various agencies and service providers to provide comprehensive services/resources that encourage and assist homeless Veterans in overcoming the barriers that led to them becoming homeless,” Sherrell-Thompson said.
CAVHCS HCHV program is grateful for the support of individuals with the same goal to eliminate homelessness among Veterans.
Should you know of homeless Veterans seeking housing resources, services are available via a walk-in clinic in Tuskegee, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness can also contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) for assistance.