Salem VA Homeless Program houses 125 veterans in 2022

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 10:36 PM EST
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Across the nation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made it a priority to house homeless veterans. In Salem, the VA is tackling that challenge and exceeding expectations.

“It means a lot. I can honestly say not only being a coordinator of this program, I am a strong believer that everyone deserves a place to call home,” said Tanyia Jones, Supervisory Homeless Program Coordinator at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Homeless Program answered the call in helping area veterans experiencing homelessness in 2022.

“Here at the Salem VA, we had the goal of housing 103; we surpassed our goal by housing 125 during this fiscal year,” said Jones.

The resources the VA has available has helped many over the years, including U.S. Navy veteran Michael Coulter, who experienced homelessness around the early 2010s.

“I had a knapsack and I was dropped off at the mission down there. I had nothing,” said Coulter.

Through a social worker, Coulter learned the VA could help with many of his needs, including helping him get into housing.

“As they saw my needs, they just sort of came along and said, we can answer that need or we can answer this need. The VA has been unbelievably wonderful to me.” said Coulter.

An important piece of the homeless program is easy access.

“We want things to be low barrier, because we know our veterans have barriers in place, such as lack of transportation. Based on that one visit, we start working on housing immediately when they come in to see us,” said Jones.

Housing is just one part of the program, the staff of 12 also helps in connecting the veterans with health care and job resources.

“Homeless, like regular people, they have families who care about them. Yes, they’ve come on hard times, there’s been some discord, there have been issues getting linked in to health care, there’s been concerns with getting employment. But we have found once you get them housed, they are ready to get linked in to those services. And we see a lot of success,” said Jones.

Jones said their work wouldn’t be possible without organizations like Total Action for Progress, Council of Community Services and the Blue Ridge Interagency Council on Homeless.

Though the 2022 year came with positives, the efforts don’t stop here. Jones said there’s still work to do and they will continue to support the successes of each veteran.

Veterans experiencing homelessness are encouraged to stop by the walk-in clinic between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or call (540)-982-2463.