Help for Homeless Veterans

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Veterans lined up to receive information about and sign up for VA benefits and services at the Chicago Stand Down in early August
Veterans lined up to receive information about and sign up for VA benefits and services at the Chicago Stand Down in early August

Hundreds of area Veterans attended Chicago’s Stand Down for Homeless Veterans in early August.  Hines was proud to participate.

Andrew Weber is an Army veteran who honorably served his country with tours of duty in Japan and Korea.  After he got out of the military in the early 1980s, Weber struggled with unemployment, substance abuse, and financial problems before becoming homeless in 2001.

Today, Weber was one of hundreds of homeless veterans in the Chicago area who attended a two-day Stand Down event at a Chicago area National Guard Armory. The Stand Down was aimed at linking homeless veterans up with available VA benefits and assistance and getting them off the streets.

“I am so grateful for all the caring people I have met here today,” said Weber, who spent about two hours with Department of Veterans Affairs representatives, learning about various programs and benefits that are available to assist veterans in need. “I  got out of the Army 20 years ago and I haven’t felt like I belong anywhere since,”  said Weber. “I didn’t even think to turn to the VA.  I am surprised at how much help there is here.”

Hines, along with the other two VA facilities in Chicago (Jesse Brown VAMC and Lovell Federal Health Care Center), along with the Chicago Vet Centers and more than 30 public and private, federal/state and city agencies organized the Stand Down event to provide Chicago area homeless veterans a wide range of services and resources in one place.

These services included:

  • Medical services
  • Optical services
  • Housing information/applications
  • VA benefit information, review of possible discharge upgrades
  • Stand Down Photo Ids
  • Department of Human Services and Social Security information/applications
  • Employment opportunities
  • Legal Assistance
  • Haircuts, clothing, entertainment, recreational activities
  • Women’s services
  • Friendship, bonding, and camaraderie

“The VA is committed to ending homelessness among our veterans” said Sharon Helman, Hines Director.   “These are our nation’s heroes.  The thought of even one of them spending the night on the streets after serving our country honorably is just totally unacceptable.” Nationally, the VA is taking decisive action to end Veteran homelessness in five years.  The  Department offers a variety of resources, programs and benefits to assist Veterans in this situation. At Hines, a team of social workers and clinicians work round the clock to provide services and assistance to veterans who are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless.

“We want to make sure that all Veterans at risk for homelessness or attempting to exit homelessness have easy access to programs and services,” Helman said.   “Events like the Stand Down are a great way to reach a large number of veterans at once and let them know there is help available. “Veterans who attended the Stand Down were anxious to improve their lives by taking advantage of all that the VA has to offer.

“I just want to get a job and find myself a place to call home,” Weber said.  “I am signing up for all the help I can get.”
For more information about VA’s Services to Homeless Veterans, go to www.va.gov/homeless/.  For more information about Hines’ Homeless Veterans Program, call William Baxter at 708-202-4961.

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