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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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VA Program for Homeless Veterans Receives Prestigious Award

September 30, 2011

Sebrina at Stand Down
DeBakey VA employee and Army Veteran Sebrina Levy serves lunch at a Stand Down for Homeless Veterans. This year’s Stand Down will take place on October 20, 2011, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., at the Emancipation Park Community Center located at 3018 Dowling Street. 

HOUSTON –The Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center recently received the prestigious Torchbearer Award from the Houston Chapter of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP). 

“We are pleased to be recognized for our on-going efforts to eliminate Veteran homelessness and improve quality of life for Veterans,” said Mental Health Care Line Executive Laura Marsh, M.D. “However, the success of our program depends on the strong support and collaboration from our many partners in the community.”

The HCHV Program in Houston was started in 1987. It was one of the first programs in the VA to help with the growing concern of homelessness in the Veteran population. On any given night, there are approximately 154,000 homeless Veterans around the country. One in every three homeless individuals is a Veteran. Three of every five homeless Veterans have serious mental and physical health problems that keep them in a cycle of homelessness.

The TAAP is the state affiliate of the National Association for Addiction Professionals. TAAP seeks to promote the advancement of Addiction Professionals by uniting addiction counseling professionals throughout Texas.

The VA reaches out to homeless Veterans where ever they are and attempts to determine what problems are keeping them from fulfilling their life goals. Once known, HCHV staff helps Veterans develop solutions to help themselves.

“We currently have 40 full-time staff dedicated to providing services to homeless Veterans. This is supplemented by the wide array of medical and mental health care services offered by the DeBakey VA,” said Luis Paulino, L.C.S.W., HCHV Program Director. “The main function of the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program is to provide services through case management and prevent homelessness among Veterans.”

If you know a Veteran who needs assistance, please call 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838) or the HCHV Program at 713-794-7848. More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at

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Awarded re-designation for Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services in 2008, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center serves as the primary health care provider for more than 120,000 veterans in southeast Texas. Veterans from around the country are referred to the MEDVAMC for specialized diagnostic care, radiation therapy, surgery, and medical treatment including cardiovascular surgery, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, ophthalmology, and treatment of spinal cord injury and diseases. The MEDVAMC is home to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic; Network Polytrauma Center; an award-winning Cardiac and General Surgery Program; Liver Transplant Center; VA Epilepsy and Cancer Centers of Excellence; VA Substance Abuse Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence; VA Rehabilitation Research of Excellence focusing on mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; and one of the VA’s six Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers. Including the outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, and Richmond, MEDVAMC outpatient clinics logged more than one million outpatient visits in fiscal year 2010. For the latest news releases and information about the MEDVAMC, visit