The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working with the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) to assist Veterans who are facing homelessness to also find and maintain a job. The VA’s Homeless Programs Office can support Veterans with support services, medical care, and housing to help those who are homeless or facing homelessness. A key element in keeping Veterans off the street is employment.
As part of the collaboration, the VA’s Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services (HVCES) and the DoL’s Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) hosted a webinar on their programs and how they both work in tandem to promote housing stability and employment opportunities for Veterans. The two organizations provided overviews of their ongoing partnership and highlighted their programs in action.
Paul Cary is a Veteran who used both programs after living on the streets for three months. Having no family or friends he could turn to he felt all alone and too ashamed to ask for help. The two programs got him back on his feet by helping him access all the benefits he was eligible for. They were able to let him know he received a 70% disability rating which provides a monthly income which he didn’t know about due to his homelessness. The HVRP helped Cary find employment by teaching him how to build a resume and apply online for jobs. He now lives in Long Beach, California and is employed.
The VA has Community Resource and Referral Centers which are designed to help Veterans get the help they need and access to all their benefits and community resources available to them. They are a one-stop access point to assist with permanent housing, health and mental health care, employment as well as access to VA and non-VA benefits. The VA assigned more than 200 vocational development specialists to serve as Community Employment Coordinators at VA medical centers around the country. They help Veterans access community employment resources to find employers who are ready to hire Veterans.
HVCES was created by the VA to improve employment outcomes for Veterans who have experienced homelessness. Housing alone is not enough to end homelessness among the Veteran population. Employment improves the quality of life after homelessness, increases self-confidence and independence while reducing reliance on institutional care.
The DoL’s HVRP is an employment focused competitive grant program. It is the only federal grant to focus exclusively on competitive employment for homeless veterans. The two objectives of the program are to provide services to assist homeless Veterans to obtain meaningful employment and to stimulate the development of effective service delivery systems that will address the complex problems facing homeless veterans. The program prioritizes three veteran populations to receive services, chronically homeless Veterans, homeless female Veterans and Veterans with families and incarcerated veterans.
Organizations that receive HVRP grants work to gain competitive employment for Veterans in these priority groups. They provide six core services: knowledge of population, outreach, assessment/intake, case management, job driven training and placement, and collaboration.
Both the VA and the DoL are committed to getting Veterans housed and employed so that they can avoid homelessness in the future.