Congressman Garamendi Stands Up for Homeless Veterans at North Bay Stand Down in Dixon
DIXON, CA – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, yesterday joined Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez, CA), Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Fairfield), and other area leaders at the North Bay Stand Down for homeless veterans. Hundreds of homeless veterans were in attendance at the event, which was designed to raise awareness of the plight of homeless veterans and to connect them with local, state, and federal agencies available to assist them.
"When we put our brave men and women in uniform in harm's way in conflicts overseas, we must do so with the understanding that when they return home, every resource will be available to them to transition into a productive and happy civilian life," Congressman Garamendi said. "This Congress has worked to help our homeless veterans, but as I look out at this crowd of proud patriots, it's clear more needs to be done."
Garamendi joined a majority of House and Senate colleagues in voting for the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, S. 1963, signed into law by President Obama in May 2010. The law expands mental health services for veterans and health care access for veterans in rural areas; prohibits copayments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled; and expands transitional housing opportunities for homeless veterans.
In March 2010, Congressman Garamendi was also proud to vote for the End Veteran Homelessness Act of 2010, H.R. 4810, which passed the House by a 413-0. The legislation would have increased funding to combat homelessness among women veterans and homeless veterans with children. It also assisted homeless veterans with finding permanent housing and provided $39 million for transitional housing beds. The Senate has not acted on the bill.
"The least we can do for our veterans is to make sure they have a roof over their head, food to eat, and quality health care access, including treatment for mental illness and substance abuse if needed," Garamendi added. "Thousands of homeless veterans have left the battlefield only to fight internal demons when they return home. They deserve all we can provide to help them rebuild their lives."
There are an estimated 200,000 homeless veterans in America at any given time. Up to 840,000 veterans are estimated to be homeless sometime over the course of a year. 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, often the direct result of combat. More than 67% of homeless veterans served for three years or more in the military. 89% of homeless veterans received an honorable discharge.
Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation's estimated 200,000 homeless veterans "combat" life on the streets. Homeless veterans are brought together in a single location for one to three days and are provided access to the community resources needed to begin addressing their individual problems and rebuilding their lives. In the military, a stand down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. Today's Stand Down affords the same opportunity to homeless veterans. There are nearly 100 Stand Downs in the U.S. every year. More than 100,000 homeless veterans have received assistance at Stand Downs.