In the Spotlight
Homeless Does Not Mean Helpless
A Veteran's Success with VA and My HealtheVet
Stand down events like this one at the Washington, DC Medical Center offer homeless Veterans the chance to get medical care and learn about transitional housing.
"I couldn't find a job anywhere."
"I was in rough shape… off my meds and all."
Suffering from a long-term disability that affected his memory, Navy Veteran Shayne Babineau was out of work, homeless and struggling to find his way after his return from Desert Storm in 1991.
He sought help with both housing and health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He began using My HealtheVet to track his personal health related information. A Veterans' shelter in Worcester, Mass., gave him a place to stay.
"They helped me a lot. They got me back on track, and there were other Veterans to talk with so I didn't feel alone," Babineau said. "Eventually, I was able to move to a temporary housing shelter in Shrewsbury Mass.. I have my own room here, and I'm feeling like I'm back on track. I'm looking to get my own place now."
Babineau credits better health care as a big factor in this journey. "VA helps tremendously with meds and health care," he explains. "And My HealtheVet is a big, big part of that. Without it, I'd be in a real mess."
Using My HealtheVet allowed Babineau to login to the system and keep track of appointments, refill prescriptions and talk with his health care team through Secure Messaging.
Events like this stand down at the VA Boston Medical Center have helped reduce homelessness among Veterans by 12 per cent.
"With Secure Messaging I can send a message to my doctor when I'm thinking of it, rather than trying to remember to do this later. And my doctors are quick to respond," said Babineau. "That helps me feel connected to VA support systems and keeps me on track with my health care."
Babineau also uses My HealtheVet to read up on health problems and stay informed about his own health risks. He uses the Blue Button to download and print his health records. "I think every Veteran should use My HealtheVet. I mean, why not? There's no down side. Only good."
VA's number one priority is to end Veteran homelessness by 2015. Recently, VA reported that the number of homeless Veterans decreased by 12 percent between 2010 and 2011. VA provides transitional and temporary housing as well as prevention programs and family assistance, all working together.
Roger Casey, Director of the VA's National Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program explains, "VA has coordinated with the community to offer emergency shelter as well as permanent housing for Veterans."
VA has a "no wrong door" policy for homeless Veterans, according to Casey. Veterans can get help with homeless services at VA medical centers and benefits offices and through community-based programs.
VA's programs for homeless Veterans and their families can be accessed through:
- The National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) to speak to trained counselors and the chance to chat with other Veterans.
- The VA web site on Homeless Veterans where you can:
- Find a Homeless Coordinator by state. Coordinators will help you access housing resources and support services that are right for you. They help families, too.
- Get Housing Support Services, which includes information and services to help Veterans find temporary, transitional and permanent housing.
- Learn about Employment/Job Training, including VA's Compensated Work Therapy program.
More information on My HealtheVet features:
Updated/Reviewed: January 1, 2012