The number of homeless veterans is on the rise for the first time in seven years. However, efforts made by the organizations such as Operation Stand Down Rhode Island may help to change that.
According to statistics released in early December of 2017 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of homeless veterans had increased during 2017 for the first time in 7 years. By the end of last year, there were nearly 600 more impoverished veterans than there had been at the same time in 2016, HUD explains. The states that have seen the largest increase are California and Washington. Meanwhile, other states such as Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, have reported a slight drop in the number of homeless veterans. The total number of homeless veterans is estimated at 40,000. HUD further informs that out of these, 25,000 live in temporary facilities, but as many as 15,000 have no reliable shelter.
Homelessness, though, is just one of the many challenges experienced by veterans. Many veterans face a number of complex and serious problems as they have attempted to readjust to the civilian world after having gone through military training and serving in a conflict zone. For veterans struggling with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, injuries, and disabilities or difficult employment and family situations, it can be an especially difficult transition.
Other small challenges of daily life often compound all of these struggles. These challenges may relate to legal issues faced by veterans such as the disability benefits application process. Anyone may find themselves in need of legal advice from time to time, but veterans who struggle financially may often feel they cannot afford legal advice.
Operation Stand Rhode Island, a non-profit organization for homeless and at-risk veterans, regularly organizes Legal Assistance Days where it teams up with lawyers from Rhode Island to provide legal advice for veterans in need free of charge. The most recent event took place on January 19th at the Providence VA hospital. Jennifer Belanger, an Associate Attorney with Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP, took part in this initiative on behalf of our firm.
The focus of Legal Assistance day is to provide legal advice concerning issues such as expungements, wills, landlord/tenant situations, RI DMV matters, disability matters, and family law. Since Jennifer has dedicated her legal career exclusively to representing Social Security Disability claimants, she was happy to assist the veterans who came to the event in need of advice concerning various problem related to disability law and the applications process. The event was a success in making connections in the veterans community. Jennifer was able to distribute copies of our book “10 Tips to Win your Social Security Disability Case” and our brochures that can further help them. Our office received calls after the event, and we are proud and happy to say we were able to help some of the veterans in need.
Operation Stand Down Rhode Island is based in Johnston and has been assisting veterans since 1993. Its mission is to help homeless and at-risk veterans to secure stable housing. From OSDRI’s website, “Ending the cycle of veteran homelessness, and preventing it, requires much more than providing a roof over the head of an individual veteran or veteran family. To achieve this goal, OSDRI offers a wide range of life-changing services including supportive permanent and transitional housing, intensive case management, basic human needs assistance (for example, food and clothing) and an employment training and placement program”.
We at Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP, are proud to be part of this enormous effort and are looking forward to the next time we can team up with OSDRI and help American veterans.