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2010 HOME Conference - Helping Veterans

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By Anastasia Edmonston, Daniel Cover & Jennifer Cho

By Anastasia Edmonston, Daniel Cover & Jennifer Cho

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  • 1. Interviewing and Legal Services for Veterans
    Danielle Cover, Homeless Persons Representation Project
    hprpprobono@hprplaw.org
    (800) 773-4340, (401) 685-6589, ext. 14
  • 2. General Background: Homeless Veterans
    QUESTION: How many homeless veterans are there in Maryland and Montgomery County specifically?
    ANSWER: Your guess is as good as mine.
  • 3. The Numbers
    National Alliance to End Homelessness Study, Vital Mission (VA Census Data)
    2007: ~4000 homeless veterans
    2008: ~1000 homeless veterans
    www.endhomelessness.org
    2009 Continuum of Care Data (HUD data)
    593 homeless veterans
    47 persons in Montgomery County
    http://www.hudhre.info/index.cfm?do=viewCocMaps&yr=2009#tab
    2010 Count of Homeless Persons in Metro Area (based on HUD data)
    56 persons (55 single adults, 1 adult in a family)
    http://www.mwcog.org/uploads/pub-documents/ql5fXlw20100513103856.pdf
  • 4. Why don’t the numbers make sense?
    • Different agencies are conducting counts, and they define homelessness differently.
    • 5. HUD does not count people who are doubled and tripled up as homeless.
    • 6. Female veterans often don’t identify with the label “veteran” and therefore do not self identify.
  • Interviewing the Veteran
    Use the same skill set you would use to interview anyone from a challenging population.
    • Presume an educational level no higher than 8thgrade
    • 7. Empathy not sympathy
    • 8. Explain the difference between available legal remedies and “Justice” as defined by the client
    • 9. Explain about needing as much information as possible if you’re going to provide effective representation
  • Cultural Competency & Building Trust with the Client
    • Cultural competency on military culture and the difficulty of discussing traumatic events
    • 10. Awareness of and sensitivity to the values of the military community
    • 11. Sit so that the veteran has a way out of the room or space
    • 12. Many female veterans do not identify themselves as being veterans; veteran is a specific status conferred, in some former military minds, to those who have seen combat; this limitation seems particularly challenging for women, even when they have seen combat or have engaged in conflict overseas.
  • Cultural Competency & Building Trust with the Client
    • Some former military have experienced not only the trauma associated with their tours of duty but also with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other sexual trauma; it may be difficult to engage the client in a discussion of these issues.
    • 13. Until the late 1980s, the VA did not provide health services to female veterans. This institutional bias has had an impact on the mindset of many veterans.
  • Asking the Right Questions: Veterans’ Status Information
    • Length of time in service
    • 14. Discharge Status: the level at which a veteran is discharged is critical to the first level of analysis of eligibility
    • 15. Type of injury, condition, or diagnosis
  • Asking the Right Questions: Veterans’ Status Information
    • How the injury, condition, or diagnosis connects to the time in service
    • 16. Creating a chronology of events
    • 17. Memory issues
    • 18. Family reactions to client behavior upon discharge or return
    • 19. Buddy stories/statements
    • 20. Was the injury, condition, or diagnosis the result of the veteran’s willful misconduct, i.e., drunk driving accident, drug use while in service, etc.
  • Asking the Right Questions: Mental Health History
    How do you prove service-connected PTSD, depression, or other mental health conditions
    • Have you spoken with a counselor or therapist?
    • 21. Have you ever had a mental health diagnosis?
    • 22. Has a doctor or other medical provider ever prescribed medication for depression or nerves? Are you taking them?
    • 23. Have you ever had an admission in a psychiatric facility or hospital?
    • 24. Were your mental health concerns ever documented while you were in the service?
  • Asking the Right Questions: Substance Abuse
    • How does the substance abuse impact the argument for service connection or aggravation?
    • 25. Was substance abuse involved in the acquisition of the injury or condition?
    • 26. Do you need to refer the client for treatment now?
    Danielle Cover , Homeless Persons Representation Project
    (410) 685-6589, ext. 14
  • 27. Options for Legal Services: HPRP Services in Montgomery County
    HPRP provides free legal services in the following areas:
    • Expungement
    • 28. Veterans’ Benefits
    • 29. Discharge Upgrades
    • 30. Child Support (Veterans only)
    • 31. HUD-VASH
  • HPRP Legal Services
    • Expungement intake every other month, usually on a Wednesday,
    Contact John Eckenrode, (301) 585-6463 ext. 2, to make an appointment.
    • Veterans’ Benefits Intake ~ WHENEVER
    Call Danielle Cover, (410) 685-6589 or (800) 773-4340 to arrange. I will travel to the client for intake.
  • 32. Why Veterans’ Benefits?
    VA Compensation and Pension Programs: Direct payments to veterans, dependents, and survivors as a result of a veteran’s service-connected disability or because of financial need.
    • Disability Compensation*: monetary monthly benefit paid to a veteran as compensation for a service-connected disability that occurred or was aggravated during active military service. Based on level of disability as determined on a scale from 10-100 percent, increments of 10.
    • Disability and Indemnity Compensation: monetary benefits for survivors of service members who died while in active service or who died from service-connected disabilities.
    • 33. Pension: Monetary benefits for veterans of wartime services and their families for a non service-connected disability or death.
    For more information on Veterans’ Benefits, go to:
    http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21
  • 34. Relationship between benefits and housing:
    Lack of sufficient income is one of the leading causes of homelessness.
    • Maximum benefit (100% rating): $2673 (veteran with no children)
    • 35. Fair Market Rent in Montgomery County: $1,156(studio), $1318 (1BR)
  • ABA Pilot Child Support Program
    • Helping veterans with arrearages in child support
    • 36. Baltimore County OCSE, Baltimore City OCSE, and University of Baltimore Law School Civil Legal Clinic, HPRP
    • 37. Services available in Montgomery County by calling Danielle Cover, (800) 773-4340.
  • Other Options for Legal Services
    MSBA Special Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Military Law
    • Issues not handled by HPRP ~ estates & trusts, employment issues, some military law issues, etc.
    • 38. Contact Charles Blomquist, Chair, (410) 435-6599
    National Veterans Legal Services Program
    http://nvlsp.org/
    Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program
    http://www.vetsprobono.org/
  • 39. Housing Options for Veterans: Limited Restrictions
    Regional Domiciliary Programs
    • Perry Point VA Medical Center
    http://www.maryland.va.gov/facilities/Perry_Point_VA_Medical_Center.asp
    • Martinsburg VA Medical Center (West Virginia)
    http://www.martinsburg.va.gov/
     
  • 40. Housing Options for Veterans: Limited Restrictions
    Grant & Per Diem Programs
    Transitional supportive housing (up to 24 months) or service centers for homeless veterans (offering services such as case management, education, crisis intervention, counseling, services targeted towards specialized populations including homeless women Veterans, etc.)
    Examples
    • The Baltimore Station: www.baltimorestation.org
    • 41. The Helping Up Mission: http://community.helpingupmission.org/
    • 42. Maryland Center for Veterans Education & Training (MCVETS): http://www.mcvet.org/
  • Housing Options for Veterans: Housing with Restrictions
    HUD-VASH Voucher Program
    Housing voucher program coupled with case management services. To apply for HUD-VASH, please contact the local VA Homeless Program. Veterans can contact the HUD-VASH program directly, or obtain a referral from a case manager in another VA program, from a community program, or other referral sources.
    Available in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Cecil County.
    Lisa Brooks, Homeless Veterans Coordinator
    1-800-463-6295, ext. 7264.
    1st floor of the Baltimore VA Medical Center in room 1D-159B.
  • 43. Housing Options for Veterans: Housing with Restrictions
    HUD-VASH Triggers
    • VA health care eligible Veterans. The VA makes this determination. (Client must not have a dishonorable discharge.)
    • 44. Do not follow local PHA restrictions on housing vouchers; follow federal regulations, i.e., not on Life Time Sex Offender Registry and no convictions for production or distribution of methamphetamines.
    • 45. Veterans must meet the McKinney Act definition of homelessness
  • Other Useful Information
    • VA Health Services
    http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/state.asp?dnum=ALL&STATE=MD
    • Facility Listing for VISN 5: Capitol Health Care Network
    http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/rpt_fac_list.cfm?isflash=0