28. Chaleng Revisted / Substance Abuse

A Friend of mine from Solider Angels sent me an email regarding a Chaleng Meeting she attended. It was highly interesting, frustrating and educational. Basically it stated VA’s intent is to only treat under the Chaleng program, those homeless veterans, that are suffering from mental disorder and or substance abuse issues.

Now actually that is not too bad in theory since that is damn near all of us according to the Veterans Administration. According to the VA’s Statistics that is 70% percent of the 194,000 they say are homeless veterans out there that means they are expecting to treat 135,800 Alcoholic or other substance abusing, mentally disturbed homeless veterans. That is quite laudable. JUST WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE KIDDING. My friend was telling me in her VA area there were only 42 beds for 816 homeless veterans http://nchv.org/page.cfm?id=81 for this program anyway. Ok so guess what my friends..yes you guessed it, Veteran homelessness runs amok, and at this Chaleng meeting the VA bigshots are slapping themselves on the back telling each other what a great year its been and what a great job they have done. Can you imagine?

The Flipside of that coin my friends is: 58,200 (the supposedly sober 30% which is still included in the 194,000 number that they espouse that they intend to do nothing about anyway now, In medicine it is called triage)of us that have our mental health, and are not alcoholics and do not do illegal substances… are not entitled to help under Chaleng because they say they do not have funds. On the other hand they want to hand grants out to every church under the sun to shelter homeless. I guess the clean and sober cannot be trusted with anything. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason to accountability in the VA. I do not understand that our congress has laid out a mandate, and laid out funding, but the VA somehow cannot find the funding because it has locked up the funding into grant programs where there is seeming little takers and slow expansion. It gave the North Carolina Governor’s Institute on Alcohol & Substance Abuse Close to 1 million dollars!! to open a referral service back to the VA and other agencies, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT here is there mission statement (The Governor’s Focus envisions a referral network of services that will comprise a system through which residents of North Carolina will have access to post-deployment readjustment assistance for veterans and their families.) and this is out of the Chaleng fund? Is that not driving the car going around in a circle around another damn lap? There is the key word in there also: ENVISIONS..meaning this is a research grant in feasibility as it has not started yet. This was a groundwork grant. Not a bed nor meal nor health care will be seen out of that money for a homeless veteran at all period. Now guess how many times that has happened and wonder why there is no funding for anything?

Now to be fair, my friend did say there were success stories, which I am very thankful for as we are all grateful to see a brother get ahead and out of the trenches. I am working to see the system work for greater numbers, not just for me but for all. The worst thing about the VA though is they gave out about 24 million dollars for homeless grants and then turned around and gave out around 140 million dollars close to the same time for burial plots. Looks like it could be a tough year.

What bothers me is that many veterans show up at the VA, and are never truly examined. Being homeless, I was never examined. Praise God I do not have substance abuse problems. I am not sure if I am not mentally impaired though! No one has mentally checked that department.

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