122. Homeless Veterans and VA Prejudice


The other day I was hanging around the Seattle, Washington VA Hospital with a few homeless veterans. I was listening around the eligibility check in desk for information. As the homeless veterans were getting checked in, I was listening to the “in-processor” who hands out the books, and folders to including the benefits of what one MIGHT be entitled to etc. and so forth.

As I was watching the homeless veterans looking down with a hangdog expression waiting for their VA identification cards giving their addresses as “none”, and explaining that their incomes from their work, were minimal at best as most did have some form of work, I heard the following… You are eligible for medical only. You are not eligible for dental, or eye glasses unless it is a service rated disability.

One fellow piped in and said he did not need glasses until he was in the service. She said he had to prove it of course. Of course proving things to the VA is nearly impossible in the first place, without two examinations and a rectal check. For some reason, the armed forces and the VA cannot coordinate the transference of the medical records in this modern era as of yet.

As a further example, I have written the National Personnel Records Center, sent in the prescribed forms, followed up with letters to a Senator and a Congressman, for my medical records. This has taken four years and I have yet to receive them or the NPRC to find them or the VA to receive them.

On the other hand, I am wondering if the VA is counting these homeless veterans that showed up on their door step that day at their hospital. If so, why were they not automatically referred to the Homeless Veteran’s Coordinator that is supposed to be assigned to every veteran’s administration hospital? The VA has highly touted these “highly dedicated and trained individuals”.  It was not a Federal Holiday again. Undoubtedly, there is a serious lack of training system wide at the VA. What else is new at the VA?

Which then made me reflect upon that pile of whatever you want to call the information that they call the Chaleng Report?  The Chaleng report is the VA’s self evaluation of their response to their handling of the homeless veteran crisis. This Chaleng report, compiled with erroneous Point in Time of Homelessness data from HUD, now is suspect as a self evaluation. From a standpoint of watching the Seattle VA disclaiming to the Homeless Veterans at the front door two of the services from the Chaleng report, I am wondering what else they are tending to deny.

So after leaving the VA Hospital that day, I rushed back to my copy of the Chaleng report dated April 15, 2007 Chaleng Report . On page 2 of the report they state that through a new Faith Based Agreement, 150 veterans received eyeglasses through a new pilot program.  And on Page 1, that through 433 new agreements that veterans received dental, eye care, substance abuse and mental health treatment through these agreements. Is this because the VA cannot get around yet to dealing with the homeless veterans?  Holy Spectacles Batman! 150 pairs of eyeglasses out of over 200,000 possible veterans!

Seriously though, something is not meshing with me here. If the gatekeepers at the eligibility desks are not referring the homeless veterans to the homeless veteran coordinators, how are they to be counted, and directed to the services which will aid them?  We do know already that the VA’s homeless veterans count is seriously lower than the counts of the individual states. If then, it escalates to the attending physicians that just treats the patient and asks him or her no questions and sends them to the pharmacy and lets them leave, is that not any better?

The homeless veterans are not being referred to the Homeless Veteran Coordinators to be worked with for their claims and issues due to prejudice, lack of training and mismanagement. What is happening is that we are doing harm and further disservice to our underprivileged and possibly mentally ill warriors who are suffering from PTSD, TBI, Alcoholism, and other undiagnosed ailments from their service to our nation.  That the VA is only servicing the 70% of the veterans that they claim are mentally ill or substance dependant and excluding the 30% that are clean, sober and mentally stable is something they fail to mention as well. So out of over 195,000 Homeless Veterans the VA says they recognize they only really recognize 136,500 as possible patients.

Actually few homeless veterans even know that there is such a thing as a “Homeless Veterans Coordinator”.  Personally, the social workers in the VA system do not mention them, physicians do not mention them, eligibility checkers do not mention them, a friend of mine from AL who is a Soldiers Angel mentioned one and then I came across an aged VA memo.  Makes me wonder what they do all day. It is shameful that we have seen no improvement this year in the VA System or the Continuum of Care. I have seen it actually become worse, with plenty of VA denials otherwise, but without any VA trophy’s of visible success.

Maybe there needs to be a “Patients Magistrate” sitting within the Eligibility Sections of the VA in overhearing of all the check in stations, or a directive that all veterans that have “none” as an address be automatically referred to the Homeless Veterans Coordinator regardless of time of day or their representative.

Your Correspondent



2 Responses to “122. Homeless Veterans and VA Prejudice”

  1. February 28, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    I do know that at the last Salt Lake City, Utah VA Stand down the representatives helped homeless vets with claims and getting any issues with disability payments worked on. But I think your idea of doing it when they visit the hospital and not just once a year is a great idea.

  2. March 2, 2008 at 11:46 am

    i really like your blog..but find the gray on black SO difficult to read… not so visually-friendly for us older folks…wish you’d consider a different color scheme.
    Good luck!

    Yes you are right and I had been fighting with the fonts and other things! Thank you for helping me make a decision.


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