The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs wants to end veteran homelessness by 2015. While the national numbers are falling, there is still a lot of work to do. There is a summit Thursday, in which Tomah VA and Monroe County officials are working together to combat homelessness throughout the community.
Organizers want people to know that homelessness does exist in the rural community, that it’s not just a big city issue.
Monroe County Housing Authority Director Theresa Burns-Gilbert says it’s a problem that's sometimes hard to see, “It’s a hidden situation. People are living in cars and vehicles and trucks and tents.”
And according to the VA, people who are homeless are much more likely to be veterans than members of the general public. The latest numbers show there are more than 600 known homeless veterans in Wisconsin, “There are veterans out there who have served our country and, be it a health issue or an employment issue, are without a home to live in, which is tragic.”
Burns-Gilbert says the VA, county, and community organizations all have to work together to get people into homes.
Since last year’s summit, she says three organizations have formed in Monroe County to combat homelessness and provide temporary shelter.