Working toward ending homelessness among our nation’s Veterans is an achievable goal. The Columbus VA and our community partners are working together to make this vision, first created by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, a reality.
The Community Outreach Division’s Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Outreach Program performs homeless outreach and to numerous sites throughout Franklin County. HCHV Social Workers perform outreach in a variety of environments, including homeless campsites, shelters, soup kitchens, and other areas where homeless Veterans can be identified and engaged.
Each Veteran is assessed by staff in order to create a plan to address their unique housing and psychosocial needs. HCHV Outreach Workers provide ongoing services to formerly homeless Veterans, assisting them in maintaining housing and identifying potential housing barriers.
The HCHV team has continued to expand its scope of services, including the Veteran Justice Outreach (VJO) program. By providing additional staff coverage to Veterans experiencing legal crises, VJO Outreach Staff have been able to advocate for treatment in lieu of incarceration for eligible Veterans. The Veteran’s Court Docket makes it possible to address Veteran specific issues.
The HCHV staff takes pride in serving the Veterans. The HCHV Outreach program has seen a tremendous progress in tangible results in harm reduction, decreasing substance abuse, sustaining housing, and assisting Veterans to develop healthy interpersonal relationships.
HCHV staff members also strive to guarantee that homeless Veterans have a wide variety of methods to reach an Outreach staff member. New communication methods include: a 24/7 staffed National Homeless Call Center, contract veteran beds in the county shelters, daily walk-in office hours held by HCHV staff members, a local homeless hotline, participation in the annual local Stand Down, and relationship building with community providers who frequently refer Veterans to HCHV social workers.
The core mission of HCHV is primarily to perform outreach, provided by VA social workers and other mental health clinicians, to identify homeless Veterans who are eligible for VA services and assist these Veterans in accessing appropriate healthcare and benefits. In addition to its initial core mission, HCHV also functions as a mechanism to contract with providers for community-based residential treatment for homeless Veterans.
The purpose of the Veteran Justice Outreach (VJO) program is to provide assistance to Veterans involved in the criminal justice system who are eligible for VA services and to prevent them from becoming homeless at point of release from incarceration. This program is also a part of the HCHV outreach program.
The Volunteers of America Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program is offered annually (as funding permits) by the VA to fund community-based agencies providing transitional housing or service centers for homeless Veterans. Volunteers of America (VOA) holds the largest amount of Grant and Per-Diem arrangement in Columbus, with 55 beds of transitional and emergency housing for homeless Veterans. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and VA Supported Housing (HUD-VASH) Program provides permanent housing and ongoing case management treatment services for homeless Veterans who require these supports to live independently. This program allows Veterans and their families to live in Veteran-selected apartment units. The vouchers are flexible, allowing Veterans to live in communities where VA case management services can be provided. This program provides for our most vulnerable Veterans, and is especially helpful to Veterans with families, women Veterans, recently returning Veterans and Veterans with disabilities.
Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) is VA’s vocational rehabilitation program and is designed to assist Veterans experiencing homelessness and/or severe mental illness obtaining and maintaining employment. Services offered through this program include Vocational Counseling, Transitional Work Experiences (temporary job placements that normally do not exceed 6 months), and Supported Employment (an intensive program to help Veterans with severe employment barriers keep employment.
Find out more about these programs and contact information.