Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Remarks for Secretary Hilda L. Solis
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Grant Announcement
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Good afternoon. As a new generation of American veterans comes home, we're reminded of the tremendous sacrifices made by our servicemen and women and by military families. No one pays a higher price for our freedom than our veterans. They risk so much fighting under our flag on the battlefield. We have a responsibility to help ease their transition to civilian life when they return stateside. We have a responsibility to do more for all of our brave men and women who've served.
We know veterans have high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and sexual trauma. These challenges put them at a higher risk of becoming homeless if they don't receive effective treatment and support. Sixty-one percent of homeless veterans are between the ages of 35 and 54. Even though 96 percent of homeless veterans are male, we know the percentage of homeless female veterans is increasing as more women have come home from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a complicated challenge that requires an "all hands on deck" response.
I sit on the United States Interagency Council on Homeless, and I chaired the body last year. I'm proud of the work this administration has done to reduce the number of homeless veterans over the past two years. But we know more needs to be done.
My VETS division is working closely with our partners at the VA, HUD and HHS to bring together programs that would otherwise operate separately. The No. 1 key to solving this challenge is providing affordable housing first. We know that once our veterans have shelter once they have their basic needs met they are more likely to seek treatment for medical issues, substance abuse, and mental health challenges. And with permanent housing, they're also more likely to secure employment.
Today, the Department of Labor is taking an important step to help 8,600 homeless veterans re-integrate into the American labor force. I'm pleased to announce that the Department of Labor has awarded more than $15 million in grant funding to 64 organizations under our Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. Our grantees are focused, first and foremost, on helping our veterans find good jobs and contribute to our economy. They will provide a range of employment services to this population, including career counseling, resume preparation, skills development, job training and job placement.
But we know success in this effort requires a holistic approach. So our grantees will also provide support services including clothing, transportation assistance, housing referrals, and referrals to medical providers and substance abuse counselors. Our grantees span communities across the country, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and we salute them for their commitment to assist those who've served.
As a nation, we have a sacred obligation to the countless fathers and mothers to the sons and daughters who've put their own lives on the line to protect ours. No service member should ever have to come home to homelessness. They should never have to go to sleep on our streets, under our bridges or in vacant homes So today, with this grant announcement, we honor our obligation to serve our military heroes as well as they've served us. Thank you for being on this call.