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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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VA Takes Substance Abuse Services Directly to Houston Homeless Shelters

February 27, 2007

HOUSTON – Houston is one of 30 communities where the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will take its substance abuse services directly to the area’s homeless. Under its Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center will receive special funding to hire an addiction therapist who will work directly in homeless shelters, counseling veterans with substance abuse problems.

“This initiative reflects the VA’s commitment to integrate treatment for substance abuse and other mental health conditions, and our progress in bringing these important services to some of our most vulnerable veterans – those who have become homeless. Substance abuse and homelessness can form an unfortunate worsening cycle, and these new services represent a chance to break that cycle,” said Joseph DeVance Hamilton, M.D., Mental Health Care Line executive. 

The MEDVAMC Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program’s goal is to end homelessness among veterans through outreach efforts and community partnerships. VA, which operates the largest integrated network of homeless assistance programs in the country, helps hundreds of public and nonprofit organizations provide supportive housing and service centers for homeless veterans. Veterans are engaged in treatment and rehabilitation programs that enable them to achieve a better quality of life.

“We are focused on those veterans who are homeless and who will choose to become substance free so they may successfully return to independent living in their communities,” said George Castillo, Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program director.

Any person who has served in the U.S. military/armed forces who meets VA eligibility requirements, as well as veterans who do not have adequate housing, are facing mental health or substance abuse problems, agree to a referral for VA assistance, and do not have adequate income or other resources that enable them to be self-supportive, are eligible for assistance from the MEDVAMC Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program.

The program offers services such as residential programs and transitional housing placement, medical care, alcohol and substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, case management, veterans benefit counseling, vocational rehabilitation assessment, and job training and employment opportunities. If you would like more information, call the MEDVAMC Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program at (713) 794-7533.

The MEDVAMC also operates a Drop-In Center located inside the DeGeorge at Union Station at 1418 Preston Avenue near Minute Maid Park. The DeGeorge Project is a supportive housing project for homeless veterans providing services ranging from accessing health care, employment assistance, transitional housing guidance, and outreach to homeless veterans. The DeGeorge Project can be reached at (713) 224-1418.

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