Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness joined 10 Minnesota Mayors and public leaders around the country in committing to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Minnesota’s progress on this goal – and the nation’s as a whole – will be measured by the annual Point-in-Time count held each January to identify and count people experiencing homelessness. The next Point-in-Time count will occur on January 28, 2016.
While we await results from the 2016 Point-in-Time count, Minnesota has a good handle on our progress to date and the challenge remaining to reach the end of Veteran homelessness, thanks to the Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry. During last year’s Point-in-Time count, we identified 297 Veterans statewide, as part of the largest push to identify Veterans ever conducted. Since then, 23 Veterans we identified have left the state or become incarcerated. In one tragic case, a Veteran on the Registry died before he was housed. The most important news is this: we’ve housed 339 homeless Veterans since January 2015. As a measure of progress, it is significant that more Veterans have been housed to date than were originally identified in the 2015 Point-in-Time count.
On Dec. 5, 2015 the Minneapolis Veterans Home was filled with holiday cheer. The day before St. Nicholas Day was one that was buzzing with Veterans young and old teeming to decorate the 3rd floor common areas and hallways with some seasonal décor. Residents of the Home came into the halls to see what the noise was and found 12 strapping young Veterans, arms filled with boxes, who had come to volunteer their time to these Residents that would be spending their holidays staying at the Home.
The University of St. Thomas’ Veterans Club had come to visit and got started immediately by unraveling garland across the ceiling and around the welcome desks, gift wrapping picture frames and topping them with bows, spreading lights around Christmas trees and, most importantly, talking Veteran to Veteran with the Residents of the Minneapolis Home.
Transforming the Home into a holiday environment was, at first, very cosmetic, but soon the halls were alive with chatter as Residents lent a hand to decorate or give advice on hanging lights and the seasonal spirit awoke. Everyone involved started to feel good and thankful: the Residents for the volunteers and the volunteers for the Residents.
The official State of Minnesota Veterans Day celebration, held at the Veteran Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights on the 11th of November was attended by many Veterans from across the state and representing a wide varieties of conflicts.
One group in particular stood out as two older Marines walked into the Center wearing ice-blue jackets that read, “The Chosin Few.” Being a Marine myself, knowing the history of the Marine Corps’ battles; what happened in Korea, especially in the Chosin Reservoir, made this sight an awe-inspiring experience. I didn’t want to immediately bombard them with conversation, so I held back while they helped themselves to the breakfast buffet and made their way to their seats.
So who do war memorials represent anyway? What are we supposed to think when we look at them? Or is it just about waving the flag and pounding our chests?
He was born in 1911 so that makes him one hundred and three years old. How is that even possible? More than double my age. What can he remember? Will he understand me? And its not as if he has led this quiet sedate life without trauma. Far from it. As I walk into the room to sit down with this man, he immediately sits up taller in his chair and stares me straight in the face with a look that seems to say, I know who I am and where I come from.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) has reduced employee and resident safety incidents at its Silver Bay Veterans Home, thanks in large part to a number of recently implemented process improvements. Employees at the Silver Bay home used Kaizen, Lean, and Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) processes to guide their improvement efforts. By creating and redesigning various standards, review processes, and programs they are building the home into a safer place to live and work.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) today released a new national estimate of Veteran homelessness in the United States. Data collected during the annual Point-in-Time Count conducted in January 2014 shows there were 49,933 homeless Veterans in America, a decline of 33 percent (or 24,837 people) since 2010. This includes a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of Veterans sleeping on the street.