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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) approached the Commission in 2008-2009 to partner on three initiatives aimed at addressing homelessness among veterans:
(1) fostering replication of Veterans Treatment Courts;
(2) supporting the Veterans Justice Outreach Initiative; and
(3) removing barriers to housing and self-sufficiency by addressing child support arrears.
The Commission’s Homeless Veterans Justice Initiative aims to support the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the V.A. by focusing on removing legal barriers—both civil and criminal—to benefits, employment, housing, treatment and services.
Issues in the News
The Commission developed ABA policy in support of the creation of Veterans Treatment Courts; it was approved by the ABA House of Delegates in February, 2010. The policy, Resolution 105A, outlines a roadmap of guiding principles for jurisdictions interested in replicating this highly effective treatment court model which serves as a mechanism to prevent homelessness among vulnerable veterans. The Commission is showcasing Veterans Treatment Courts and the V.A.’s Veterans Justice Outreach Initiative through programming held at ABA Midyear and Annual Meetings as well as at national conferences hosted by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Child Support Initiative
The Commission is collaborating with the V.A. and the Department of Health and Human Services through its Office of Child Support Enforcement to resolve child support issues for Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Outstanding child support obligations serve as barriers to benefits, employment and housing. Through the interagency collaboration, ten communities across the country are participating in the pilot program. Veterans currently enrolled with V.A. specialized homeless services will be eligible for services. Initially, referrals will be generated by V.A. residential homeless programs, the V.A.’s Health Care for Reentry Veterans, or the V.A.’s soon to be established Supportive Services for Veterans Families. Drawing from this relatively stable population of homeless and at-risk veterans, who are connected to ongoing rehabilitation and support services, offers the continuity and motivation necessary for a successful resolution of child support issues. As this project develops and capacity increases, a local determination may be made to expand the target population to include additional groups of homeless and at-risk veterans from other referral sources.
A Primer on V.A. Law, Practice, and Procedure
Resources and More Information
- ABA Military and Veterans Legal Center
- Advocating for Homeless Veterans (presentation)
- A Roundtable Discussion on Meeting the Legal Needs of Veterans (2013 Mid-Year Meeting)
- Join the Military & Veterans Legal Center Listserv