On January 29, 2015, NVF Women’s Outreach Coordinator Kristine Hesse, (USAF retired) was on LA’s Skid Row. She had a lot of company. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, together with city and county government officials and more than a hundred volunteers spread out over the area to count and interview the homeless.
The count had three elements to give an accurate picture of the demographics: a point-in-time survey of people living on the streets, people residing in shelters, and interviews with individual homeless. Five-person teams were assigned specific areas to cover. The official count started at 9:00 PM and continued until 11:30, when teams reported back to LA Mission. The NVF van was on the streets as early as 7PM collecting homeless veterans and driving them to the downtown VA clinic for a meal, a shower, clothes, and shelter if they wanted it.
Vets were also helped to apply for VASH housing vouchers. Asked about the event, Hesse commented, “We had a chance to speak with both the VA Secretary and HUD Secretary at the end. Both were open to our comments, and VA Secretary MacDonald acknowledged the NVF for the services we provided for our homeless vets.”
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.