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VA Rolls Makes Bold Move To End Veteran Homelessness By 2015

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HOMELESS VETS
AP

Nearly 30 cities across the country will host awareness initiatives this fall aimed at highlighting local services available to veterans mired in or on the brink of homelessness.

The "Make the Call" campaign is part of the Veterans Administration's push to eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015. These local programs will explore the dimensions of veteran homelessness and encourage community members and military families to contact the the VA's unique toll-free number dedicated to helping homeless veterans and at-risk individuals.

The hotline (877-4AID-VET, or 877-424-3838) is staffed 24/7 by trained specialists and has been active since March 2010.

More than 75,000 veterans are on the streets on a given night, and about 135,000 spent at least one night in a shelter, according to recent homeless count surveys.

"Those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope," VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in a news release. "Working with our partners in state and local government, the nonprofit and the private sectors, we can restore our homeless veterans and their families to the lives of dignity they've earned."

The "Make a Call" campaign kicks off this week in Alaska before stops in Arizona, California and 19 other states and the District of Columbia. For a full list of cities and dates, visit the VA's Public and Intergovernmental Affairs hub.

The agency has recently charted a new course in its fight against veteran homelessness. For years, the VA focused on providing temporary housing solutions. Today, the focus is on prevention and finding permanent housing for those in need.

Chris Birk is director of communications for the VA Mortgage Center, which specializes in VA loans for veterans and active duty service members.