Labor Department Awards $5 Million to Aid Homeless Veterans

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"Millions of hard-working, responsible families are at risk of losing their homes as a result of job losses, reductions in working hours and lower wages," Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis said during a teleconference. "And probably no other segment of our population is more vulnerable to homelessness than our veterans, and more recently and importantly, female veterans." 

The Labor Department will distribute the money ? funded through the department's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program -- to 26 organizations in 14 states and the District of Columbia to boost job placement services, job training and counseling, and supportive services such as literacy and skills training, Solis explained. 

"These grants will help veterans access the resources they need to find good jobs and build a bright future for themselves and their families," Solis said. 

According to the Veterans Affairs Department, on any given night there are about 107,000 homeless veterans, of whom 5,000 are estimated to be homeless female veterans and about 1,300 are homeless veterans with families, she said. 

Solis said she feels strongly about helping female veterans, particularly those returning from combat. "We know many of them have been exposed to trauma [or] post-traumatic stress," she said. "Some have experienced sexual assault." 

Some female veterans may have enlisted right out of high school and, as a result, are lacking formal training in the work force, she said. Solis also pointed out the importance of affordable housing and providing female veterans with the treatment and support they need. 

"We're hoping that our programs, through these efforts, will help to provide at least a good effort to begin to address this very important issue," she said. 

Along with the grants, the Labor Department also is involved in a number of other efforts that will increase job opportunities and support for homeless veterans, Solis said, especially for veterans returning from active-duty service and veterans with disabilities or in permanent supportive housing. 

Solis said she's requested more than $35 million in the fiscal 2010 budget to help veterans and $41.3 million for 2011. 

"On the battlefields of war, our veterans pledge to leave no one behind," she said. "Today we're doing our part to make sure that our veterans come home -- that we do not leave them behind." 

Hilda L. Solis  [ ] 

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