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Veterans of the Mission & VA
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “Only 8% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly one-fifth (20%) of the homeless population are veterans. A large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.” Surveys of homeless men report one third (33%) are veterans. Armed service veterans stay homeless, on average, longer than non-veterans.
Roseburg is a hub of veteran activity because of the local VA services that are offered. Homeless veterans are drawn to Roseburg to access those services. Many stay at the Mission for a night or for months before, during and/or after receiving VA services. The VA Hospital adds millions of dollars to the local economy. Veterans live and shop in this community. The VA helps to even define Roseburg much like a university helps to define a so-called college town. The Mission is similarly defined at least in size and clientele. We do not contract beds for veterans working with the VA, because we have been blessed with ample shelter, food and clothing for them. Douglas County is supportive of the Mission and the VA, as we serve those that have served our country.
The Mission and the VA Hospital both have chapels, preachers and staff available for counseling. Granted the VA is secular and the Mission is a Christian organization; still, we share a common bond of agreement in the spiritual need of our clients, however voluntary or integral that faith is to our organizations. The accrediting organization of hospitals requires a spiritual aspect in the operation of each hospital. The chaplaincy department is a part of meeting the whole need of patients in the modern healthcare system. In VA programs like the one for PTSD, spiritual assessments are done on each patient to determine their need while in that program. Similarly at the Mission in our New Life Program, intake interviews are done to understand each one’s relationship with the Lord. Our new Life Program consists of chapels, Bible studies, addiction and life skills classes, counseling and goal setting. It is not a requirement to be a Christian to be in the Mission’s program, just an openness to discover our Creator and Savior. All of the vets pictured here have been to Mission chapel services and profess a faith in the Lord.
These same veterans, Sue, Michael, Tim and Daniel, have stayed or are staying at the Mission. All use VA services. They are not meant to be a complete representation of veterans using services at both places; yet, collectively they have utilized many of the programs offered. They all came to Roseburg and plan to remain here because the VA Hospital and Mission are here. All are using the HUD-VASH program, that is, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Veterans Affairs Supported Housing. One vet has already been placed in housing in the community. Two are still in the Mission’s Transitional Housing Program, the other is in our dormitory. Years ago, the Mission purchased two Single Room Occupancy Hotels downtown. Now men can rent rooms for up to two years. They need to be in our dorm 30 days, graduate from our New Life Program or be referred to us by a social service organization like the VA.
Veterans utilize other services as well. Some of these vets were at the VA Domiciliary in White City, OR for long-term addiction issues. Some have used the VA Roseburg’s short-term inpatient or outpatient addiction programs. One has used the VA Roseburg’s inpatient Psychiatric Program at least partially due to combat related issues. Some have used the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) van for transport between the VA and Mission. One of these vets has Parkinson’s disease, one has a traumatic brain injury, all have utilized the VA medical services.
When the crises of physical, psychological and spiritual health as well as homelessness come together, the VA Roseburg Healthcare System and the Roseburg Rescue Mission work together to meet the needs of our veterans.