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Opening Statement of Hon. Michael H. Michaud, Chairman, a Representative in Congress from the State of Maine

Today, we will examine the Department of Veterans Affairs Grant and Per Diem Program for homeless veterans.

On any given night, there are approximately 200,000 homeless veterans on the streets in America.  The majority of these veterans served in Vietnam, 96% are male and about 45% suffer from some mental illness.

VA has many programs to help homeless veterans – including the Grant and Per Diem Program.  VA needs to continually evaluate these programs to ensure that veterans are getting the services that they need and that provider organizations can effectively provide these services.

For example, while the vast majority of homeless veterans are male, female veterans are the fastest growing segment of this population. 

Women homeless veterans face similar challenges to their male counterparts, but they are very likely to have experienced serious trauma including abuse or rape and a significant number also have children to support.  VA programs must be flexible to meet this new challenge.

I believe that VA should make sure that they give Community Based Organizations the tools they need to provide comprehensive services to our homeless veterans.

The way in which the Grant and Per Diem program is currently structured sometimes makes this difficult – particularly for providers in high cost areas.

It is my belief that the goal of VA homeless programs should be to not only provide veterans with a bed for the night and a meal – but to provide them with the resources that they need to attain permanent housing, a steady job and a renewed sense of self-worth.

Today, I hope that we will learn what VA is doing to provide services to homeless veterans to help them break out of this cycle.  We will hear about the Grant and Per Diem Program – both what is working and ways that it can be. 

One homeless veteran is one too many.  This is a problem that we can solve by working together.