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Depicting Homelessness Among Veterans
Issue 2 of 8

Brian NEW HeadshotA Message from EIC's President, CEO & Co-Founder, Brian Dyak

Veterans are strong, proven leaders. The stories of Veterans who experience homelessness and the service providers who connect them with care are complex.

As you’ll learn from Profile On articles in these Spotlight On newsletters, there is no “typical” Veteran. Each story is unique. There are positive stories of the Veteran who reached out for support and overcame the challenges he or she faced before, during, and after military service. There are stories of hardships that include separation from friends and family, difficulty transitioning back to civilian life, financial troubles, and physical and mental health issues. I encourage you to incorporate the stories of success and fairly present these challenges. Your willingness to shine a spotlight on the tools Veterans can use to overcome adversity is a service that only you can provide through the stories you tell.

In the U.S., nearly 1 in 10 adults is a Veteran. Your consideration in the creative process can make a major difference in the lives of many deserving Americans. Stories that focus on hope can encourage your viewers to seek assistance and support. The more accurate these portrayals are, and the less they rely on stereotypes, the more your message will resonate with Veterans, their families, and community members.

Just as Veterans protected our home, we will work to protect theirs. Like the story of Jim Z., below, and others you’ll read in the coming months, we are reminded that while challenges may arise, they are not insurmountable. I hope you enjoy getting to know these Veterans and organizations as much as I have, together let’s proactively appreciate their contribution to freedom. It is the least we can do!

 In this issue...
  • A Message from Brian Dyak
  • Did you know?
  • Profile On: Jim Z., A Veteran who was Formerly Homeless
  • Suggestions for Depicting Veterans and Homelessness
 Did you know?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working toward its goal to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Volunteers on a single night in January 2012 counted an estimated 62,619 Veterans who were homeless in the United States. That’s a 7.2 percent decline in Veteran homelessness since 2011 and a 17.2 percent decline since 2009.

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

 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!

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Profile On: Jim Z.
A Veteran who was formerly homeless

Jim Z.Jim Z.’s family members have defended our nation in the armed services since the Revolutionary War. He was proud to follow their example. Jim served as a combat skills instructor and intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve after 9/11, and was deployed in Iraq for 15 months.

After his service, Jim and his family moved from Washington state to Southern California so his wife could attend the University of California, Los Angeles. Jim struggled emotionally when his father died, and he and his wife fought. The Department of Children and Family Services threatened to remove Jim’s children from his home unless he and his wife separated.

Jim and his oldest son left home and went to a hotel. Just before they were forced to start sleeping in his car, Jim decided to call the VA medical center.

Local VA officials placed Jim and his son in temporary housing through the Grant and Per Diem Program, which funds community agencies that provide services and stable housing to Veterans who are homeless.

“We stayed there for seven months until I was able to save up some money and get on my feet and move out,” he said. VA also provided Jim with mental health support, which he called “a blessing.”

“They really understand how to help guys with combat issues,” he said. “I tried seeing some outside providers who aren’t specialized in treating military trauma and it just wasn’t helping, wasn’t working.”

Now, Jim is the program manager at the Grant and Per Diem Program for the Hollywood Veterans Center. He completed his master’s degree from the University of Southern California and is living happily with his family again.

“I feel very fortunate to have all the services that VA offers. I signed up and I knew I was getting the GI Bill, but I didn’t sign up to get all this help afterwards,” he said. “I consider myself just very lucky.”

Depicting Veterans and Homelessness

  • Consider depicting positive encounters within families and in the community where understanding and persistent encouragement lead your characters to discover the support and help that is available.
  • Think about ways to showcase the strength and initiative it requires to seek assistance when a Veteran and his or her family face a period of homelessness. This adds opportunities for dramatic dialogue and plot development.
  • If your storyline focuses on Veterans’ issues or contains a character who is a Veteran experiencing homelessness, remember to feature VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (877-4AID-VET) at the end of your show or whenever possible.
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EIC's FREE Technical Assistance Resource
to the Creative Community!
To set up your own FREE First Draft Consultation with one of our experts contact Ashley Jupin:
or 818-861-7782
Mark your calendar for
EIC's Summer Briefings

Veterans Issues for Storytellers
July 11, 2013 - 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
SAG-AFTRA Cagney Board Room

Mental Health for Storytellers
August 8, 2013 - 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Location: TBD

Click here for more information about these briefings! 
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