weather icon Partly Cloudy

Veterans Reporter: Those homeless folk? Few are veterans

In my eyes, the homeless population in the United States has seemingly grown over the last few years.

I don’t claim to have a scientific poll to back up that statement. However, I base it on visual impact. Driving around various parts of Northern and Southern Nevada and Southern California, I have noticed more and more individuals pushing market baskets containing all their worldly belongings, and an increasing number of what used to be called “hobo jungles” — collections of tents, lean-to’s, hutches and similar assemblages that work to keep out the elements of weather.

But according to some sources, few if any of those folks are military veterans. To be sure, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other socially-conscious organizations have been working diligently to overcome the problem of homelessness, and I acknowledge that some progress has been made.

Shalimar Cabrera, the executive director of U.S. VETS in Nevada, told me on a recent radio interview I conducted with her that local homelessness among veterans has been functionally overcome, meaning that their numbers in the Silver State are so small that the focus has shifted.

Now, her group invests more time assisting at-risk veterans, those who are working through problems that might lead to being homeless. With proper up-front help, a positive outcome is more likely.

The board of supervisors in California’s San Bernardino County, which butts up against Nevada’s Clark County, recently voted to expand and implement programs to locate housing for 376 individuals identified as chronically homeless. Last year the board carried out a plan that housed 501 homeless veterans, so this year the focus will be on young people.

The board feels that its success in finding permanent housing for veterans now means it can shift its efforts to helping homeless youth.

According to a joint finding of the VA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness has been cut almost in half in the in U.S. since 2010.

The housing department reports that on a given night this past January, fewer than 40,000 veterans were experiencing homelessness across the nation. But only slightly more than 13,000 of them were living on the streets unsheltered. The government reports that its success is due to a combined effort from HUD and the VA appropriately called “HUD-VASH” — Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program.

Those figures seem to suggest that veterans are being helped off the streets and into programs that offer government rental assistance, case management, health care, clinical services, job training and education. But not long ago while I was being interviewed by local TV broadcaster Steve Schorr, he brought up the problem of so many men and women who fought for the nation now living in tents and shelters.

Schorr was correct in asking how the United States could allow that to happen to its veterans. But I added that I felt we must attack the problem of homelessness as it affects all individuals, vets and non-vets alike. The sight of homeless enclaves of men and women in states and cities around the nation gives visual proof that we still have much work to do.

Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient. Every other Sunday he discusses veterans’ issues over several Lotus Broadcasting AM radio stations in Southern Nevada.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
DAN SCHINHOFEN: Let’s talk about the peaceful transition of power

For nearly 250 years the United States of America has had a peaceful transition of power in our government. Of course after Lincoln was elected the Democrats seceded from the Union, but other than that, when one party lost power in the House or Senate or the executive, the position of president or speaker of the house has been handed over without bloodshed or rancor.

TIM BURKE: My favorite season is fall, but not this year

The change from the summer to the fall season is always one of my favorite times of the year. In a normal, non-COVID-19 world, children would head off to school, our youth would be participating in fall sports, and many local events would be held for our community to attend.

DEBRA J. SAUNDERS: Lockdown hazard

The coronavirus debate is about much more than masks.

DEBRA J. SAUNDERS: Mike Pence’s calm conservatism

With his no-drama demeanor during the vice presidential debate Wednesday, Pence showed America how Trump would look if he acted like a politician: like a president.

Is this ‘cartoon existence’ really living?

As I was binge watching the last season of “The Blacklist”, I was surprised it only had 19 episodes. What was stranger was a few minutes into the 19th episode they cut in with cast and crew telling us that they were in the middle of filming when COVID-19 restrictions kicked in. After making sure to tell us to be safe and other platitudes, they then went back to the show, but half of it was cartoon and the other half live action.

Letters to the Editor

Is no electoral college moving toward no constitution?