Department of Veterans Affairs seal

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2011 -- As part of its drive to end homelessness among veterans by 2015, the Veterans Affairs Department has launched an outreach initiative in 28 communities across the nation.

"Those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope," VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in announcing the "Make the Call" initiative.

Shinseki noted that 28 communities, from Atlanta to Hawaii, will host special programs this fall highlighting local services for homeless veterans, their families and those at risk of becoming homeless.

"Working with our partners in state and local government, the nonprofit and the private sectors, we can restore our homeless veterans and their families to the lives of dignity they've earned," Shinseki added.

This fiscal year, VA officials said, the department expects to spend $3.4 billion to provide health care to homeless veterans and $800 million in specialized homeless programs, citing studies that say more than 75,000 veterans are homeless on a typical night, and about 135,000 spend at least one night a year in a homeless shelter.

Since March 2010, VA has offered a toll-free telephone number, staffed around the clock by trained professionals, to help homeless veterans, their families and at-risk people. The number is 877-4AID-VET, or 877-424-3838.

Recently, VA has transformed the focus of its efforts from temporary, shelter-based services to prevention, employment, permanent housing and help to families and veterans at risk of becoming homeless, officials said.

Here is the schedule for upcoming special awareness and outreach programs:

-- Arizona: Phoenix, Oct. 18-19

-- California: San Francisco, Oct. 19

-- Colorado: Denver, Oct. 14

-- District of Columbia: Oct. 14

-- Florida: Miami, Oct. 21

-- Georgia: Atlanta, Oct. 29

-- Hawaii: Kauai, Oct. 14, and Oahu, Oct. 17

-- Louisiana: New Orleans, Oct. 22

-- Massachusetts: Boston, Oct. 20

-- Missouri: St. Louis, Oct. 17

-- New York: New York Harbor, Oct. 21

-- Texas: Houston, Oct. 20, and Dallas, Oct. 18

(Editors note: Several events around the country have already occurred and those dates were removed from the list above.)

Page last updated Fri November 4th, 2011 at 13:24