Closing a Front Door to Homelessness among Veterans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been identified as a mainstream institution to help prevent homelessness among America’s veterans. The large numbers of incarcerated veterans with serious mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders who are at risk for homelessness support the need for expanded VA outreach to this population. Since 2002, the VA has contacted almost 6,500 veterans in prison or jail. Its leadership role in affording comprehensive health, mental health, social resources, corrections outreach, and current policy and planning strategies positions the VA to provide system wide service to veterans leaving correctional institutions. As this VA outreach program proceeds, examining the links among program assumptions, veteran needs and outcomes, and existing evaluation processes can help to maintain focus on homelessness prevention strategies.