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Depicting Veteran Homelessness
Issue 4 of 8

Veterans ComputerDepiction Suggestions

• Show Veterans overcoming their fears and taking action to seek support in resolving their challenges and securing safe, stable housing. Veterans may feel they’re the only ones experiencing homelessness or consider it a sign of weakness to seek help and discuss their problems with those around them. Your characters can show the strength it takes to seek help.

• Explore how Veterans may use their skills and strengths to reintegrate successfully into their communities and take on positions of leadership. Due to their military training and experiences during service, Veterans often return home with new and powerful skills, making them ideal professionals and students.

• Show the varying forms homelessness can take. Not all Veterans who are homeless live on the street or in a shelter. A Veteran may be considered homeless if he or she is “couch surfing” at his or her family’s and friends’ houses.

• Where possible, include information for VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (877-4AID-VET) at the end of your show to increase awareness that help is available. 
Did you know?

The overall rate of homelessness in the U.S. has dropped slightly, but the rate among Veterans has dropped significantly, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The report showed a 7.2 percent decline in homelessness among Veterans from 2011 to 2012 and an even steeper decline of 17.2 percent since 2009. Still, even one Veteran without safe, stable housing is one too many—and HUD estimated that 62,619 Veterans were homeless on a single night in January 2012.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Read More!

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 In this issue...
Homelessness Among Veterans

  • Suggestions for Depicting Veterans and Homelessness
  • A Message from Brian Dyak
  • Did you know?
  • Profile On: Michelle O. [Veteran who was formerly homeless] 
Brian NEW HeadshotA Message from EIC President, CEO & Co-Founder
Brian Dyak

The Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) recently had the unique opportunity to host a community forum on ending homelessness among Veterans in the great city of Chicago. In partnership with Fox 32 Chicago and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Homeless Veterans Initiative Office, we convened local media, shelter providers, consumer groups, community leaders, and elected officials to identify the top priorities and best practices for informing the public about the services available for Veterans who are homeless in Chicago.

The discussion was enlightening, and people shared many personal stories that moved everyone in the room. We heard from reporters who had covered hardships faced by Veterans and from Veterans who were formerly homeless and were connected with the help they needed to get back on their feet.

To learn more about Veteran homelessness and the services VA provides to help Veterans find or maintain safe and stable housing, visit Fox 32’s community resource page. The “Picture This” publication that captures highlights from the forum and additional information will be released shortly. “Picture This” will be distributed to news outlets throughout the Chicago media market and to those who attended the forum. Of course, you can always visit to learn more about what VA is doing to help Veterans prevent and overcome homelessness.

 Resource for Veterans

The VA provides comprehensive and individualized care to Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, no matter when or how they served. Trained, supportive professionals, many of them Veterans themselves, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to connect Veterans with the services they need to get them back on their feet. Make the call to help a Veteran access immediate help from the VA.
Click here to learn more!

Profile On: Michelle O.
(Veteran who was formerly homeless)

Michelle O. came from a family of Army Veterans and spent 11 years in the Army Reserve, troubleshooting radios and navigational equipment. But when she left military service in the early 1990s, Michelle struggled with moving, a divorce, and alcoholism. 

She moved to her brother’s home in California to rebuild her life, but the city’s social scene fueled her alcoholism. Wanting to get her life on track, Michelle stayed for more than a year at the Bimini Recovery Center, a nonprofit agency that receives funding through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program. The VA initiative funds community agencies that provide services and stable housing to Veterans who are homeless.

She left with a job and her own apartment, but was soon out of work and living on the streets again. She spent six months in another GPD housing program for female Veterans before receiving a U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher for her current apartment.

Michelle said her life turned around when she discovered the services dedicated to helping Veterans. VA, she said, “gave me my life back.”

“Veterans have different needs than the average person. We’re conditioned to survive,” she said. “But when you have programs that deal with Veterans on a regular basis, they can connect with the different problems that we have.”

Michelle works at VA; she first conducted outreach among Veterans who are homeless in West Los Angeles and now is a medical support assistant. She has been sober for more than 10 years and received her bachelor’s degree in human services.

She plans to earn a graduate degree and become a social worker.

“Vets respond to Vets. I want to be able to assist them in a higher level,” she said. “I want to advance the level of reaching out to Vets.”

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