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Experts weigh in on veterans homelessness

Experts weigh in on veterans homelessness
Attendees of The American Legion's Homeless Veterans Roundtable in Washington, D.C., on March 24 listen to experts discuss progress and challenges. (Photo by Lucas Carter)

The American Legion's Veterans Employment & Education Commission hosted a Homeless Veterans Roundtable on March 24 during the Legion's Washington Conference that featured homeless veterans advocates, policymakers and representatives from various government entities. The panelists spoke about the progress made and challenges remaining in the presidential administration's five-year campaign against homelessness among veterans.

The panelists included representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, National League of Cities, U.S. Vets, Community Solutions, Housing Assistance Council, the Home Depot Foundation and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV).

John Driscoll, president and CEO of NCHV, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that the Legion has collaborated with for several years, called the arbitrary five-year deadline in the campaign against veteran homelessness a "benchmark" figure. Driscoll quoted a number of statistics that support his contention that what was once a "pipe dream" is becoming a reality. He noted, for instance, not only a significant reduction in the number of unsheltered veterans on the streets at night but the fact that housing for the homeless was "ten times what it was" when the campaign began.

"We are (also) going from a mission of rescue to prevention with employment and income security being key," he said.

Driscoll lauded the Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, for their efforts in ending veterans homelessness. He also praised The American Legion, saying that the organization has "the strongest voice in communities nationwide. You represent the heart of our communities."

Driscoll and the other panelists emphasized throughout the roundtable discussion that while the government is an important player in the campaign to end veterans homelessness, it is equally important for organizations and individuals at the community level to "make sure that no veteran will ever again have to sleep on the street."

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David Wallin, prior 2d Vice, Am Legion Post 53 Hillsdale MI

March 27, 2014 - 4:10pm

I am a homeless vet with loving wife of 39 years about to be removed from a friends home in Dubuque IA. If I could regain a MI DL I could make my way. I do not have a driving record problem; I may have an IRS problem leading to these circumstances. I am sick & tried of socialism in America as a cause for veterans to advocate. However, I am also sick and tired of court decisions in MI with no trial on the merits nor in my case in 2005 a decision by the MI Sec of State to "cancel" both my wife's and my MI ordinary DL, when we both have a perfect driving record. Please help 727-478-2727 Giving up on America under these conditions.

Polli Pollem

March 27, 2014 - 4:27pm

If you are having a tax problem, there are many free low-income taxpayer clinics that help resolve these issues. In Iowa, Iowa Legal Aid has a clinic and can be reached at 800-532-1275 or 515-243-2151. If cleaning up your tax problem doesn't fix the problem, there are a variety of free legal services in MI who can help, many serve only veterans. This site won't allow me to post a link to a list of legal services organizations who provide free help for veterans. So google Michigan Veterans Legal Services" -- Look for a pdf file titled "Pro Bono Resources for Veterans -- State of Michigan." I wish you well David.

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