Press Releases

November 09, 2009

Veteran's Advocacy Project Works to Stem the Tide of Homelessness

LOS ANGELES, CA - It is estimated that on any given night there are approximately 154,000 homeless veterans living in the streets of America.  Sadly, soldiers returning from the Vietnam War, whose war-related ailments went improperly assessed or treated, became homeless within 9-12 years of returning home.  In sharp contrast, however, veterans of the wars in Afghanistan [Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)] and Iraq [Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)] are becoming homeless within 9-12 months.

Since October 2001, approximately 1.7 million troops have been deployed in support of both OEF and OIF.  Along with the sudden increase of homelessness among veterans, one-third of OEF/OIF veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic-Stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  In addition, OEF/OIF veterans between the ages of 20-24 have the highest suicide rate among all veterans, and are nearly four-times more likely to kill themselves than civilians from the same age group.  Moreover, a new type of homeless veteran is emerging on American streets: women.

With the likelihood of only half of OEF/OIF veterans even receiving minimally adequate care for their PTSD, depression or TBI, dire consequences loom over our homeless veteran population.  In response to this pending epidemic, the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. (NOVA) and Public Counsel's Center for Veterans Advancement (CVA) have teamed up to fight homelessness among veterans through a program geared towards providing competent, pro bono representation before the VA. 

This joint program between NOVA & CVA Advocate Pro Bono Program (Program) is set to become one of the largest pro bono programs of its kind in the United States.  The Program includes representation at both the VA-agency level and at the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Court, and boasts of over 25 participant law firms from across the U.S.  The Program will provide much-needed pro bono claims representation to poverty-stricken and homeless veterans, increasing the likelihood of receiving the benefits they desperately need and deserve, sooner than expected.  "This partnership," says CVA's Director and Program Manager Rick Little, "strikes out at the ravages of poverty and can facilitate for these national heroes the life they truly deserve - a life free from poverty and despair."

"This collaboration," says Hernán Vera, Public Counsel's CEO, "between the nations most recognized and respected veterans' advocates, NOVA, Inc. and the world's largest, pro bono law firm, Public Counsel, will help stem the tide of homelessness among our veteran population."

 

CONTACT:       Rick Little, CVA Director, for more information at (213) 385-2977 x125 or rlittle@publiccounsel.org.