Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Homeless Vet Falls Through the Cracks

 

Last updated 6/14/2022 at 3:32pm | View PDF

The Department of Veterans Affairs creates numerous programs to deal with homeless veteran populations - and this is all well and good. But it's the individual homeless vet who can fall through the cracks.

The VA Office of Inspector General reports about a veteran (I'll assume here it was a guy) who had multiple physical conditions on top of severe cognitive impairment. Years ago, he was given housing assistance and an evaluation and made part of a program. Eventually, he was booted out of the housing and thus booted out of the help program.

In the space of seven months, he took himself to the emergency room at a VA hospital a dozen times for various medical conditions, most a result of living outside or in a car. They admitted him for 33 days while he got evaluated for his cognitive functioning and had his medical conditions cared for. They discharged him and sent him off in a cab to a non-VA shelter.

For whatever reason, an hour later, he showed up at the ER again. They gave him a bus ticket to the shelter. The trip involved changes of buses, not an easy trick for someone with severe cognitive impairment. An hour later, he again showed up at the ER. Once more, they gave him a bus ticket and a printed list of instructions, telling him to go to the shelter.

The next day, a social worker discovered that he never made it to the shelter, and the following day, the family filed a missing person report.

Three days later, he was found at the shelter.

A reading of the OIG report shows one misstep after the other, with staffers putting a cognitively impaired veteran on a bus and not using one of the donated Uber gift cards and having him delivered right to the door of the shelter. Better yet, they could have told family members that he was being discharged.

To read the report: http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-21-02209-147.pdf

(c) 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.

 

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