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Before the Joint Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee on Appropriations Regarding Housing Our Heroes, Addressing the Issue of Homeless Veterans in America.

May 1, 2008

Good morning Madam Chairwoman Murray, Ranking Member Bond, and distinguished members of this subcommittee. Thank you for giving Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) the opportunity to offer our comments on Housing Our Heroes, Addressing the Issues of Homeless Veterans in America.

Homelessness continues to be a significant problem for veterans especially men and women veterans who served during the Vietnam era. The VA estimates about one-third of the adult homeless population have served their country in the Armed Services. Current population estimates suggest that about 154,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. Of that number about 4-5% are women veterans with VA reporting that of the new homeless veterans this is as high as 11% for woman veterans.

Homelessness has varied definitions and many contributing factors. Among these are PTSD, a lack of job skills and education, substance abuse and mental-health problems. The homeless require far more than just a home. A comprehensive, individualized assessment and a rehabilitation/treatment program are necessary, utilizing the “continuum of care” concept. Assistance in obtaining economic stability for a successful self-sufficient transition back into the community is vital. Although many need help with permanent housing, some require housing with supportive services, and others need long-term residential care.

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