It is estimated as recently as 2021 that nearly 1,400,000 Veterans throughout the United States are at risk of becoming homeless at any given time. The only difference between a homeless Veteran and an at-risk Veteran is one is still paying on a lease or a mortgage. Veterans who live below the poverty line, who risk unemployment, pay over half of their income on housing, are diagnosed with a mental illness or substance use disorder, or suffer from a disability are at a greater risk of becoming homeless. Over 67% of homeless Veterans served in the military for at least three years and 33% were stationed in a war zone. All of the homeless Veterans supported by The Journey Home (TJH) over the last seven years have lost or destroyed nearly all previously established health interactions, connections and relationships. Many of those at risk are just as isolated, alone and guarded in their relationship with others and their community. All individuals tied to The Journey Home’s mission to “end Veteran homelessness” should be aware of how they can make a difference in the lives of Veterans. Together, we can turn the tide of these trends!
Captain Adam Solomon (Featured Video) is one of many Veterans with a story to share, yet they are not sure how or to whom that story can be shared with. Service to country is a life-changing experience, with many life-changing events and moments. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen/Airwomen experience these events and moments in isolation of their families, neighbors and communities, without words or a sense of connection that allows them to share. They often feel isolated and disconnected from the very individuals and relationships that connected them to their military service and to why they served. We talk too much about what the government is or is not doing to take care of our Veterans, but TJH focuses on turning the conversation to what we, their loved ones, their neighbors and their communities can do to help them come home and to reconnect to those they love. Our Veterans and military personnel did not choose to serve or to sacrifice for their government. Their “love for Country” is rooted in their love for their families, their neighbors, and their communities. They served us, now it is time for us to serve them.
Our history has pushed TJH to become better and to evolve so that the mission to “end Veteran homelessness” captures our ability to be proactive and to be socially responsible to factors impacting Veteran homelessness. The foundation of our mission strategy is Veteran Outreach. As a result, TJH’s Veteran Outreach Team (VOT) has evolved into our flagship program; with the mobility and expertise to lift Veterans out of at-risk or homeless situations. Your financial support. Your commitment to this cause allows TJH to accomplish this mission using four different strategies. These strategies honor the Veterans’ service and sends the message that their nation cares!
- Education/Awareness:That Veterans are at risk and need their neighbors and community’s help.
- Crisis/Disaster Relief:Recovering Veterans from a crisis and reducing the life impact of a disaster.
- Transitional Facility:The operation of a 15-bed facility to transition homeless male Veterans into housing.
- Housing Retention: Providing Veterans at risk of homelessness with specialized navigation and harm reduction services; connecting them to their community.
Mission Strategy Through the Eyes of a Veteran:
“I am a Vietnam Veteran. I was introduced to TJH shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. I am housed and have been independent of others care my entire life. The diagnosis of cancer has been tough and very scary. Feeling hopeless and angry, I went to my local Veteran Service Office (VSO) for help. I was fighting the impulse to shut down and withdraw all together. The VSO called TJH. I did not know where to start, or understand what was happening to me, or how to navigate the many appointments that are now critical. TJH understands, and they have connections that help me. I am not alone, and that feels really good.”
TJH’s VOT quickly helped by offering this Veteran transportation to medical appointments. Our Veteran navigator and the clinical manager wrapped harm reduction services and interventions around this Veteran’s needs and connected him to other local resources outside his oncology clinic. TJH’s response to enhance this Veteran’s ability to access care is an example of how critical the VOT services are to the lives of both Veterans and community providers who are dedicated in their service. TJH was able to facilitate and coordinate linkage of care between his oncology clinic and the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) as well as other community partners. He’s expressed relief many times of not having to worry about the logistics of appointments or for his care, and for the fact that he is not walking this journey alone anymore. He is not alone; he has a community around him. TJH and our community partners are now walking this journey together with him. Most importantly, his hopefulness is now matching the capacity of his treatment-providers as they manage his care plan.