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October 9, 2011 (San Diego) -– As part of its national drive to end veteran homelessness by 2015, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) and its community partners will host a Homeless Veterans Outreach Campaign event on Oct.12, 2011. The event will inform the public about the many programs available for veterans who are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in San Diego County.

Michael Cardarelli, VA principal deputy undersecretary for benefits, will speak at the event, to be held at the Veterans Memorial Center in Balboa Park, 2115 Park Boulevard, San Diego from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

In keeping with President Obama’s vision to honor and support the men and women who have preserved our freedom, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki has established a priority goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by 2015. VA chose Las Vegas as one of 28 locations to spearhead this mission.

“Those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope,” Shinseki said. “Working with our partners in state and local government, the nonprofit and the private sectors, we can restore to our homeless Veterans to the lives of dignity they’ve earned.”

VA San Diego, in conjunction with our community partners, is committed to providing housing and services to assist homeless veterans in San Diego, said Robert M. Smith, M.D., VASDHS acting director. There are an estimated 2,000 homeless veterans in San Diego County. “Our homeless veterans outreach team has been working very hard to reach out to our community and provide supportive and transitional housing, health care, and assistance with legal issues to help the veterans get their lives back on track,” Smith said. VASDHS also plans to open a Domiciliary for Homeless Veterans in San Diego in early 2012."

In addition to providing housing, employment and healthcare services to veterans who are homeless, VA’s campaign aims to prevent homelessness by connecting veterans and their families with support before they lose their housing. Veterans lose their homes when financial, employment, health, or legal challenges overwhelm them. Veterans can gain access to services for all of these issues by contacting the VA National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838), staffed by trained counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This fiscal year, VA expects to spend $3.4 billion to provide health care to homeless veterans and $800 million on specialized homeless programs. Recent studies revealed 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.

Recently, VA has transformed its efforts in the fight against homelessness. It is changing from a program focused on temporary, shelter-based services, to prevention, employment, permanent housing, and help to families and Veterans at risk of becoming homeless.

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