Peace at Last
A veteran in his mid-50’s entered Trust House from the psychiatric unit at the VA
Medical Center after experiencing a psychotic episode due to his paranoid schizophrenia.
His life-long struggle with serious mental illness had finally taken its toll and
he lost his housing; employment; and all hope for having any peace in the later
years of his life. Hopelessness had led to more than one attempt to take his own
life. Living in a run-down motel, the veteran had begun drinking to cope with his
situation and had completely isolated himself from the world. Once admitted to Trust
House, he required two additional psychiatric admissions before his condition stabilized.
The Trust House staff, along with the veteran persisted in moving him forward. The
persistence paid off and he became stabilized with medication. He reported that
at that time, it was the longest period he had experienced without hearing voices
since the onset of his illness at age 19. At entry, the veteran had 30% service-connected
disability (around $370 a month), after serving for over 20 years in the Navy. With
the assistance of the case manager, the veteran pursued an increase in his disability
and was awarded 100% service-connected disability (around $2,700.00 per month).
After several years of isolation, the veteran began attending groups including life
skills; Alcoholics Anonymous; VA Medical Center meetings; and additional dual-recovery
care. He moved into a market-rate apartment on discharge after 5 months at Trust
House. When asked about the impact of his stay at Trust House, the veteran replied,
“This is the best year of my adult life.”
CITIES OF ROANOKE AND SALEM UNITE TO END VETERAN HOMELESSNESS
Virginia State Senator John Edwards Tours Roanoke’s Trust House & Highlights Regional Collaboration
ROANOKE, VA – Virginia State Senator John S. Edwards and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Region III Regional Administrator Jane C.W. Vincent joined City of Roanoke Council Member William D. Bestpitch and City of Salem Council Member Lisa Garst to highlight regional success in “Joining Forces” to end homelessness on Wednesday, July 16 at the Trust House, home of the non-profit organization that provides transitional and emergency shelter to individuals, families and veterans experiencing homelessness.
The officials and area advocates used the gathering to underscore the State of Virginia’s and the Cities of Roanoke and Salem’s commitments to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, part of the Obama Administration’s Joining Forces initiative. Through the Mayors Challenge, mayors and local leaders across the country commit to marshalling federal, local and non-profit resources to end veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015. The Mayors of the Cities of Roanoke and Salem were the first to sign on in the Commonwealth. Governor Terry McAuliffe pledged his support on June 9 at the Ending Virginia Veteran Homelessness Summit in Richmond, VA.
“It is the Commonwealth’s duty and honor to provide housing to veterans who have risked their lives for our protection,” stated Sen. Edwards in his remarks. “It is our turn to protect our veterans by ensuring they have housing.”
In the last year, homelessness in the Commonwealth has declined 7.9 percent, with a 10.8 percent decrease in family homelessness and a 14 percent decrease in veteran homelessness. Much of that progress can be attributed to bipartisan support for permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing solutions.
“Trust House is an excellent example of the leadership a local non-profit provides in identifying a need and then collaborating with other service providers and local government to effectively address the need—in this case veteran homelessness. Trust House is utilizing local, state, and federal resources to rapidly re-house veterans, which is one of the first steps in stabilizing lives. This approach is exactly what is needed to end veteran homelessness in the Roanoke region and across the Commonwealth,” stated Pam Kestner who serves as the Special Advisor on Families, Children and Poverty in Virginia’s Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources.
Salem VA Medical Center Director Dr. Miguel H. LaPuz, City of Roanoke Human Services Administrator Carol Tuning, who also serves as the Chair of the Blue Ridge Continuum of Care, joined Trust House Executive Director Ali Hamed-Moore in sharing insight into why their collaboration is helping individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the Blue Ridge region. Blue Ridge Interagency Council on Homelessness Chair Dr. Paula Prince also shared the results of the July 11 Summer Street Count, an effort that helps advocates continue to understand the circumstances and issues those who are experiencing homelessness face.
“The fact that one in every 10 Virginians is a veteran only escalates the importance of tackling this issue,” noted HUD’s Jane Vincent. “The partners gathered here today—from the Trust House to the Salem VA Medical Center, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, to Rebuilding Together Roanoke and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness—include many entities and most importantly, caring people working together to help everyone find a safe, stable place to call home.”
“The Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness applauds the leadership of the Mayors of Roanoke and Salem in committing to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015,” observed VCEH Executive Director Phyllis Chamberlain. “We greatly appreciate Senator Edward's work in the General Assembly and interest in ending veteran homelessness. We will provide support to the region's efforts to make sure that no veteran experiences homelessness again.”
Ink Drawing by Trust House Veteran
"I believe in God and I praise the Lord I found the Trust House. I think he put me here and brought us together and I know if he hadn't I'd be dead."
" Everything was good for me while I was here, I've learned a lot, turned my negative ways into positive ways. Trust House helped me get my life back."