Photo by James V. Carroll

VA launching national homelessness events

In 2009, nearly 149,000 veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. That statistic spurred the Department of Veterans Affairs' mission to end veteran homelessness by 2015.

VA has transformed its programs for at-risk veterans and their families by providing comprehensive, coordinated access to health care, housing, employment, education, job counseling and training, and justice system assistance and benefits. VA expects to spend $3.4 billion this year to provide health care to at-risk veterans and $800 million in specialized homeless programs. Now, VA is kicking off a nationwide campaign to involve individuals at the local level in 28 events across the country.

The events will raise awareness of the VA benefits and community-based support and resources that veterans and their families have earned. They include heath, housing, employment, and job training, not only for veterans who are homeless, but also for those who are at risk of losing their housing. Veterans and their families and friends can access these services through a one-stop hotline, at (877) 424-3838, and an online chat. Both are staffed by trained counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The American Legion encourages Legionnaires to get involved by spreading the word. If you know someone who is homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless, encourage them to make the call today. If members of your post are interested in supporting one of the 28 events to end veteran homelessness, below is a list of cities and event dates, along with the contact person.

Oct. 12Anchorage, Alaska - Marcia Hoffman-Devoe, (907) 257-5460Canandiagua, N.Y. - Dan Ryan, (585) 393-7209Chicago - Maureen Dyman, (708) 202-5627Cleveland - David Bachman, (216) 701-4269Detroit - Alysse Mengason, (313) 576-1000, Ext. 63340Fayetteville, N.C.: - Ed Drohan, (910) 488-2120, Ext. 5991Lebanon, Pa. - Scott Harman, (717) 228-6079Los Angeles - Ralph Tillman, (310) 268-3671San Diego - Cynthia Butler, (858) 552-4373Seattle - Jeri Rowe, (206) 764-2589Sioux Falls, S.D. - Shirley Redmond, (605) 333-6889

Oct. 14Denver - Jordan Shupbach, (303) 393-5205)Washington, D.C. - Michelle Spivak, (202) 745-4037

Oct. 17Oahu & Kauai, Hawaii - Patricia Teran-Matthews, (808) 433-0100Phoenix - Paula Pedene, (602) 200-6279St. Louis - Contact: Marcena Gunter, (314) 289-6325

Oct. 18Dallas - Contact: Monica A. Smith, (214) 857-1158

Oct. 19 San Francisco - Judi Cheary, (415) 750-2250

Oct. 20Boston - Diane Keefe, (857) 203-5879

Oct. 21Houston - Bobbi Gruner, (713) 794-7349Miami - Shane Suzuki, (305) 575-3399New York - Jennifer Sammartino, (718) 836-6600, Ext. 2804

Oct. 22New Orleans - Amanda S. Jones, (504) 565-4852

Oct. 29Atlanta - Gregory Kendall, (404) 417-5385