Poignantly underscoring the commitment of veterans to the security of the United States, Asst. Veterans Affairs Secretary L. Tammy Duckworth told a capacity crowd at the Lyceum Monday that Connecticut and the rest of the nation must ensure housing and services for them.
"We are all dishonored when a veteran sleeps on the same streets that he or she has defended," Duckworth, the assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said. "We are all dishonored when a veteran's family has to live in a shelter while he or she is out fighting for us. We need to fix that."
On any given night in Connecticut, an estimated 450-800 veterans are homeless, and as many as 3,000 individual veterans were believed to be homeless over the course of last year. There are 76,000 homeless veterans in the U.S., and Duckworth is part of an effort to get the number to zero by 2015 to meet the goal of Opening Doors, the federal plan to end homelessness prepared and released last June by the U.S. Interagency Council to End Homelessness.
Duckworth's talk, followed by a panel discussion of experts on homelessness and veterans' services, was hosted by The Partnership for Strong Communities as part of its IForum Series, which is cosponsored by CHFA, DECD, Webster Bank, TD Charitable Foundation, The Hartford, the Universal Healthcare Foundation and the Connecticut Association of Realtors.
Opening Doors is seeking to end chronic homelessness by 2015 and homelessness among families, youth and children by 2020. "I know it is ambitious," she said. "But when we started, we had 131,000 veterans on the streets of this nation. A year ago, we were at 107,000 homeless veterans on the streets of this nation. And as of April, we are now at 76,000 homeless veterans on the streets of this nation."
To read more about the event, click on these links to press coverage:
Hartford Courant Columnist Susan Campbell: Dishonored Americans: That's All of Us When A Vet Is Left Homeless
Hartford Courant: Forum Spotlights Homelessness Among Veterans
New Haven Register: 'We are all dishonored' when a veteran is homeless; official says VA working to end this plight
CT Mirror: Tackling the problem of homelessness among veterans
CT News Junkie: A Call To End Homelessness Among Military Veterans
See photos of the event here: