Addressing a veteran homelessness crisis
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, on any given night in January 2021, 19,750 veterans experienced homelessness — and 8% of all adults who experienced homelessness were veterans. Though this number is a slight decrease from 2020, it’s still far too high.
At the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service we’re working to support veterans experiencing homelessness through our Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program, a competitive grant program focused on reintegrating individuals into the workforce and building strong systems to address the challenges veterans experiencing homelessness routinely face.
HVRP in action in Washington state
During a recent trip to the Washington State Department of Veterans’ Affairs (a recipient of an HVRP grant), VETS Assistant Secretary James D. Rodriguez was able to see the effects of this important program in action: He learned about Arly Bosh, a former infantry soldier with multiple combat tours who struggled when he got out of the Army. Though Bosh faced many challenges that kept him from obtaining employment, he received assistance through the Washington state VA that helped him overcome those barriers.
Bosh credits Jon Matthews, a WDVA Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration case manager for giving him “a hand up, not a handout” and for providing him with the support and confidence he needed to start working again, which led Bosh to land a job as the general manager at a Best Western in Lakewood, Washington.
The HVRP program provides veterans with individualized career plans that include everything from employment training, professional clothing and even transportation. Additionally, a dedicated case worker is assigned to help each veteran meet their career goals and obtain financial stability. Bosh credits the support he got through the VA and his case worker for helping him perform his best in the civilian workforce, an experience he says has been “night and day” from where he was before.
As HVRP case manager Holly Stenglein put it, “Our mission is to give veterans back their sense of purpose [and] help [them] get back on their own two feet, and we’ll be there with them every step of the way.”
Bosh’s experience at the Best Western and the services he received from the department paved the way for additional opportunities and led him to where he is today: employed and living in Montana near his daughter. The move, he says, is just another step toward moving up in the world. And as has been the case throughout his transition into a civilian career path, he remains “in good spirits.”
Maria Temiquel is director of grants and training for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.