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New hotline to help homeless Vets

New hotline to help homeless Vets



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new national hotline will allow homeless veteran advocates locally to connect with Veterans living on the streets who need them most.

Calls made to 1-877-4AID VET will be funneled to the appropriate VA medical centers around the country.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced the establishment of a new telephone hotline to provide emergency support and resources to homeless Veterans.

"It is unacceptable for a single Veteran to spend the night on the streets of America," said Shinseki. "The hotline of the new National Call Center for Homeless Veterans will provide homeless Veterans with caring, timely assistance and coordinated access to VA and community services."

Family members, workers at community agencies and non-VA providers also may call the national hotline to find out about the many programs and services available to assist homeless Veterans.

Well-trained expert responders will staff the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They will join other responders who staff VA's Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Responders are cross trained to handle calls at either call center. While a responder will know which type of call is incoming, all Veteran callers will be receive a brief suicide screening.

VA officials recognize that homeless Veterans are in need of food and shelter, clothing, financial assistance, and treatment for medical conditions. Additionally, many require access to permanent housing, Veterans benefits and vocational resources.

VA assistance is available for homeless Veterans who may have mental health issues, substance abuse, depression, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. The responders operating the new hotline will ensure Veterans receive the help they need and deserve.

So far the hotline has received 1,846 calls. The National Call Center for Homeless Veterans is the latest in a series of initiatives to help homeless Veterans.

Last year, Shinseki launched a campaign to eliminate homelessness among Veterans within five years. Since then, the number of Veterans homeless on a typical night has dropped 18 percent.

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Jill Atwood, Veteran Affairs Salt Lake City

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