103.Smoke and Mirrors sponsored by the Veterans Administration

3140397097.jpgI recently read a post by my friend SLOHomeless where he was talking about renewable resources. As I was reading I thought of my friends who report to Congress and write those jazzy memos over at the Veterans Administration.

The one issue that they hate reporting is that Veterans are a renewable resource in homelessness. The VA has constantly been down playing how many homeless veterans there actually are in this nation. I found a month back a report in The State of Kentucky and matched that states report versus the report filed by the Veterans Administration (I used a snapshot page here from the NAEH based on VA and HUD data for your perusal,  just roll over the State of Kentucky on this map), and there was quite a difference. On the State of Kentucky’s website they state that there are 3,500 homeless veterans state wide, with over 1,000 identified by the Louisville, KY VA Hospital. Now that is quite a wide margin over the 425 that the VA is reporting. It is also amazing to me that the VA having not been allocated many housing vouchers somehow managed to miraculously house over 538 homeless veterans in Kentucky? The VA is reporting here that in KY alone they cured close to 56% of the total veteran homelessness in that state according to the VA Statistics. Now having read enough VA Memos I know these glory hounds would have been back slapping and hee hawing the good news all over the place if they had actually accomplished this. The strange thing is the VA’s lack of documentation on this miracle that occurred in 2006.

My puzzlement here is from the fact that the State of Kentucky as well as all states here in the United States are reimbursed for the aid they provide to homeless veterans. This money comes from the VA!! The lowest number this state reports is 800 to 1200 sleeping on the streets on a given night.

Ok I am not a brainiac here, but as Hamlet would say: Something is rotten in Denmark (meaning these statistics).

According to the downturn in statistics on this map, the numbers of homeless veterans should have DECREASED between 2006 and 2007 according to all VA Reports and other memos. In Colorado, they should have reported that they housed 2,692 homeless veterans or that the homeless veterans held a mass exodus from that state.

Now ,the VA has shown some states increasing in the numbers of homeless veterans, and between 2005 and 2006 added 1,033 veterans to the total number of veteran homeless. An interesting fact about homelessness in general is that those that are homeless generally stay in their certain geographical area. They are not a highly mobile group at all and the VA has not before Congress or anywhere else for that matter explained these anomalies. According to the Colorado statistics, (3,895 homeless vets in 2005 and only 1,203 H.V’s in 2006) over 69% of the homeless veterans just disappeared!

The point I am trying to make here is that every agency, non-profit organization and even faith based organizations keep bandying about these VA statistics. I will not call it a clever use of disinformation for minimizing an issue, but it certainly is. By consistently issuing statistics that the VA chooses to issue after the 2004 reduction of their homeless veterans counting by 121,000 veterans they are twisting the media as well as public view on this issue.

By constantly saying there is only 194,000 to 195,000 homeless veterans, then eventually it has become that in one’s mind because that is the number of Homeless Veterans since it is the most quoted. Eventually it is reported enough and commented on it becomes fact.

George Orwell’s book Animal Farm should be remembered here. The farm animals went from “four legs good, two legs bad” to “four legs good, two legs better” and since it sounded close to the same no one could remember what it was originally. The VA has been mandated by congress to reduce veteran homelessness. The VA’s first act was to cut the homeless veterans statistic by 121,000 veterans. In doing so the VA is now in their memos reporting that less than 25% of the homeless are veterans. I predict that agencies will start using 1 out of 5 homeless are veterans as opposed to 1 out of 4 because of the disinformation.

Well I have some mental statistics to add here of my own. Using an Army division size of about 15,000 men, there are over 15 Divisions of Homeless Veterans in the United States. Now think that whole communities spring up around military bases. That would be the equivalent of 15 new cities minimum in the United States. That is using a number of 225,000 homeless veterans. Using the VA’s numbers from 2004 there would have been over 22 Divisions before they felt inclined to change statistics.

The simple fact of the matter here is that the VA continues as it always has. It continues to mask the issue of what it is not doing, or not succeeding at. Taking on Veterans Homelessness is not an issue they are comfortable with, Congress keeps giving them a pass on it but having to appear tough on them in case anyone looks, and the only ones that are trying to do anything are the faith based groups, advocates and non profit charities.

Going back to renewable resources as I first mentioned, with the number of homeless veteran deaths in this nation that go unreported, and the number of new veterans finding themselves venturing into homelessness is staggering. It is acutally something that the VA fails to list or mention specifically because it again points to failures in their system.

Veteran Homelessness is a constantly renewing issue, as the old trees die, there are new ones constantly taking their places. At this time as in the past times, it has not ebbed or abated in this issue.

The homeless veterans know this issue quite well and there are always new faces on the streets and always a few missing as the months wear on. In Colorado, did the VA think that over 2,600 homeless veterans suddenly went to Disney Land? Agencies in general need to quit quoting the VA statistics, since they are skewed to cover what is actually going on in the field and are seriously doing more damage than good for advocating veteran homelessness.


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