Group offers help for homeless vets

It’s not enough to say we have X number of homeless veterans on the street. Before there can be real solutions, we have to know why those veterans are out there, and specifically what they need. The Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups (aka CHALENG) is organized to bring together all those who can work to remove barriers for those homeless veterans.

CHALENG has two goals: pair Department of Veterans Affairs service providers with those in the civilian community, and conduct surveys to identify the real needs of homeless veterans. Previous surveys have allowed the VA to pinpoint and then create programs to fill specific needs. A 2015 CHALENG survey of over 6,000 participants showed the following:

• Needs that are generally being met for homeless veterans included medical services, testing for TB and HIV, services for psychiatric problems, substance-abuse treatment and case management.

• The top two unmet needs were the same for both male and female veterans, with housing for registered sex offenders being first on the list, followed by child care.

• Legal issues — hurdles that many veterans can’t overcome on their own and the VA can’t provide — include preventing an eviction, credit counseling, having a discharge upgraded, dealing with outstanding warrants and fines, child support and restoring a drivers license.

• Veterans between the ages of 45-60 provided the bulge in the bell curve, with their numbers exceeding half the total.

CHALENG has been able to bring together help from services for veterans families, dental programs, Housing and Urban Development housing help and legal programs.

If you’re a veteran who is at risk of being homeless or needs services, there is help. Veterans and families can call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to get VA services. You also can call the closest VA Medical Center. Don’t wait until your situation is dire. Address it early and ask for help.

(c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.