During the National Convention in
St. Louis it was announced that I had been appointed to the
Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Homeless
Veterans (ACHV). I am honored to sit as a representative of
Vietnam Veterans of America on this committee. I thank VVA
President Tom Corey for his recommendation. I will do my best
to represent VVA and homeless women veterans as their voice on
In October I attended my first Advisory Committee meeting.
Presentations were made by several federal agencies and
projected plans were addressed. The 2003 Advisory Committee on
Homeless Veterans Report has been submitted, responses have
been received, and it is now public record. ACHV is compiling
recommendations for the 2004 report. In keeping with President
Bush's initiative to end chronic homelessness in ten years,
ACHV has established a subcommittee to develop a ten-year
There have been some very significant events relating to
homeless veterans since the Convention. The Department of
Veterans Affairs Homeless Grant and Per Diem Program, with the
awarding of its latest grants, now has 8,200 transitional beds
operated by more than 250 community programs in all 50 states
and the District of Columbia. This is an increase from three
years ago when funding was provided for 1,250 beds in just 24
states. The VA expects to provide grants supporting 10,000
transitional beds by 2006.
The Interagency Council on the Homeless (ICH) consists of 20
federal agencies involved in helping the homeless. U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G.
Thompson is the chair. In April 2004, VA Secretary Anthony
Principi will become chair. In the spring of 2003 a combined
grant from HHS, Department of Housing and Urban Development,
and the VA awarded $35 million to 11 communities that have put
together partnerships of providers offering housing, health
care, mental health, substance abuse, and veteran services to
the homeless. The VA awarded $4.6 million in grants as part of
the council's initiative.
VVA's task force will continue to advocate for legislation
identifying veterans as a special needs population within the
homeless population. We will push forward on our resolution to
gain fair-share funding for homeless veteran programs. Our
first order of business will be to establish a legislative
agenda for 2004.
We extend a special salute to those chapter and state councils
doing their part in rendering assistance to our less fortunate
brothers and sisters.