Going the Extra Mile for a Homeless Woman Vet

Los Angeles Police Department’s HOPE team (Homeless Outreach and Protective Engagement)  held a meeting to address the difficulty getting veteran service providers to intervene with help beyond during-office-hours-referrals. Attending that HOPE meeting were our Women Veterans Outreach team and representatives from two other veteran services agencies—three organizations from a field of many who’d been invited. The head of the HOPE team specifically asked for help with a female Army vet he’d worked with the  previous year.

Still suffering from PTSD and MST (Military Sexual Trauma), this Army veteran had left LA but was on her way back. The head of the HOPE team called the NVF Women Veterans Outreach staff. We stepped up and said we’d be waiting for her.

When the Veteran’s car broke down on the way back to LA, she had to leave her car and get on a bus. Unbelievably, the bus broke down just east of LA. Now on foot, with no luggage and no car, she called us. A woman from our Women Veterans Outreach picked her up from the bus yard east of downtown and took her across the city to the West LA VA. First stop was housing intake at the Welcome Center. Next stop was the hospital on the other side of campus to see if she could sign up for any type of preliminary health care.

A note here: this Veteran’s discharge from the Army was Other Than Honorable. We see this often after MST has been reported. Unfortunate and unfair, that type of discharge usually makes healthcare from the VA unavailable.

That was the case for this Army vet. Our staff didn’t waste a moment. We proceeded to an agency which operates an SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families) housing program. Because our Women Veterans Outreach has an extensive network, we had a personal contact there who arranged for services for this Vet. We’d gotten the ball rolling, but permanent housing takes 1-2 months to come through. The Vet had a little bit of money and we got her checked in to a hotel.

The next day our mission was to find temporary housing for this Vet. Staff picked her up at her hotel and took her to a GPD (Grant Per Diem) program which had been recommended by the social worker at the VA Welcome Center. But the Vet didn’t feel safe there. The staff seemed rude and the area felt very unsafe. Back to the drawing board. The Vet had just enough funds for one more night in the hotel.

The next morning, we were back on the phone, hustling. Staff found a space at a civilian transitional housing program. We drove the Vet to the intake appointment and toured the site with her. It was safe and accommodating. Later that day, staff helped the Vet recover her car and get it to a mechanic. Finally, a piece of luck: an easy fix to get it up and running. Now mobile, the Vet returned to her transitional housing.

Within days, the Army Vet was able to start her new job. Employed and safe in transitional housing, she’s saving to be ready when SSVF comes through with housing (SSVF will pay her deposit and first month’s rent). She’s now connected at the Vet Center, and she knows she can call on us any time she needs support.

Throughout the whole process, staff remained in close touch with the LAPD Officer who’d first tried to help this Veteran. We are proud to report to him that she is not only safe but housed and employed. People who care make a difference

Ketamine, introduced years ago as an anesthetic, has been shown to be useful in the treatment of Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Linda Li and Phillip E. Vlisides, in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (Nov. 29, 2016) wrote, “Even a single-dose of ketamine may cause rapid antidepressant effects in otherwise treatment-resistant cases of bipolar and major depression. Remarkably, this also includes the acute reduction of suicidal ideation.”

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National Veterans Foundation

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