Friday, June 26, 2009

A Big Step For Homeless Veterans

By Tammy Duckworth

As a Veteran, a former State Director of Veterans Affairs and now as Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs I understand the urgent need to address homelessness. Last week’s meeting of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness with Secretary Shinseki, and his counterparts at HUD, Labor and HHS, took an important step in coordinating our efforts to eliminate homelessness in our country. The VA estimates that one-third of homeless Americans served in the military, so this partnership is central to our efforts to help these brave soldiers.

One important outcome of the meeting was the announcement of an additional $75 million in housing vouchers. This new money will provide shelter for an additional 10,000 homeless Veterans and their families. These resources offer vital support to a community in need.

For state and local Veterans’ agencies, these funds come at a time when many local budgets are being squeezed by the current economic situation. While the VA works hard to offer support services and case management to eligible homeless veterans, local agencies play a crucial role in the care of these individuals.

Our nation's Veterans placed the good of the nation before their own and we are all dishonored when even a single Veteran sleeps on the street. I am proud of this administration’s commitment to fulfilling our nation’s promise to these brave soldiers. I look forward to working with my colleagues throughout government and the private sector to continue to fight this problem and make sure that no Veteran or American has to face the harsh reality of being homeless.

Tammy Duckworth is the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs.