December 2, 2012

I would like to thank Steve Vogel [“A Vietnam veteran finally comes home,” The Fed Page, Nov. 23] for shedding light on a serious yet overlooked issue facing veterans. Although a certain portion of resources, such as housing vouchers, is designated for veterans, the demand greatly exceeds what is available. The program mentioned in the article, HUD-VASH, is unique in its service to veterans, especially those with chronic mental illnesses, and in its commitment to “housing first.” Unlike many other housing assistance programs, HUD-VASH does not require a veteran with a substance abuse issue or mental illness to be sober or compliant with treatment to receive services. 

As a social worker, I have seen how difficult it is for people to begin working on recovery when their basic needs are still unmet.  The public needs to keep in mind that as politicians look for ways to reduce government spending, vital programs such as HUD-VASH are often the first to be put on the chopping block. As more veterans experience mental illness, these programs become even more crucial.

Teryn Sahagún, Seattle