New Program for Homeless Veterans

New hope for Houston military verterans down on their luck. The Michael E. DeBakey V.A Medical Center opens a new residence for homeless veterans. The program provides an opportunity for vets to return to indepedent community living. Pat Hernandez has more.

The 40-bed domiciliary residence on Fannin will bring veterans in need of assistance together with the wide range of programs and services provided by the Veterans Administration. Director Edgar Tucker says he hopes the facility to be packed with vets.

“The advantage of this particular facility, I think, is that it is designed so that there is both a structured environment in terms of  treatment and therapy and support for veterans, but it also is designed to give them independance and safety so that as they learn new skills, or regain old skills that they can do that in a safe and secure environment.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans was attended by elected officials including Houston representatives Nick Lampson and
Sheila Jackson-Lee.

Lee:   “This facility that will make amends in some small way, for the hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans who have found themselves homeless, and other veterans who are without skills, and find themselves homeless, we now say we are neighbors and we are family.”

Lampson:  “It’s all about the promise that we make to ask men and women to put their lives on the line and some of them come back in not the best way, and we cannot forget the promise that we made to care for them.”
It was also attended by Mayor Bill White.

“It takes a support group to get people turned around so that they could live and that independance and dignity for which people aspire.”

Domiciliary Chief Sally Eddins says Residents in the DCHV Program participate in a full range of rehabilitation services.

“There’s a lot of interest in the domiciliary and a lot of need  for this level of care for our veterans because it’s a step towards, or a step before moving out into the community into some permanent stable type of housing and being truly independant.  That doesn’t mean that they won’t still receive services at the hospital whatever programs they’re involved in or medical care. Pat: This facilitates that process? Yes it does.”

The VA estimates that about a third of the adult homeless population served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and that almost three-quarters suffer from alcohol or other drug abuse problems.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.