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Fourth Annual White River Junction VA Medical Center Community Mental Health Summit – September 14th

Posted July 21, 2016

Date: September 14, 2016
Time: 9am-1pm
Location: White River Junction VA Medical Center – Bldg. 44, Room 103

This year’s Summit will include two plenary sessions; 1) access to mental health care for Veterans and their family members and 2) Suicide Prevention. Sign-in and networking will take place from 9-9:30am, with opening speakers beginning at 9:30am.

Please email this form to to register. Please note that lunch will not be provided, but you are welcome to bring a bag lunch.


New Partnership Aimed at Helping Homeless Veterans

Posted September 15, 2015

Local 22 ( recently reported on a collaboration between the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program and the Vermont State Police to aid in the effort to end veteran homelessness in Vermont:

In the United States, it’s estimated that more than 200 thousand veterans are homeless on any given night. More than 400 thousand veterans will experienced homelessness throughout the year. But several Vermont agencies are working to reduce those rates.

At the Williston Vermont State Police barracks, Troopers are part of a new partnership aimed at helping homeless veterans in the state of Vermont. It’s about establishing relationships and getting people in need off the streets.

“It’s hard to imagine something more disorienting than being homeless,” said Dr. Tom Simpatico. In Vermont, 9.1 percent of veterans are homeless, a rate higher than the national average. “For people who have served their country, and put themselves in peril for this country, I think you can argue that there is an even more compelling imperative to reach out and make sure they are well provided for,” said Simpatico.

Simpatico is project director for Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program. Administered through the University of Vermont, it’s teamed up with Vermont State Police to help keep numbers down, “Law enforcement officials have a natural opportunity to come across people who are having difficulties,” added Simpatico. “The troopers are very experienced at interacting with all types of people, whether it be someone experiencing a mental health crisis, or someone just in need, down on their luck,” stated Lt. James Whitcomb, Williston Barracks Commander for the Vermont State Police.

The groups worked together to create resource cards, that troopers will hand-out to struggling veterans. “It’s one of the many tools we can carry, several phone numbers for various agencies, it’s a very simple process,” said Whitcomb.

Troopers at the Williston barracks have had the cards for a few months now. State Police and the Veterans Group say they’re seeing results, but it’s about acting fast when they see someone in trouble. Simpatico said, “The longer a person or their family is homeless, the more likely, or harder it is to move out of homelessness.” Whitcomb added, “It’s a no-brainer for us. We can get involved in helping someone out, relying information to them that’s going to help them and their families, it’s a great fit.”

The overall goal of the program and partnership is to send the resource cards to all Vermont State Police barracks throughout the state. Leaders say they plan to launch a new website in the next few months that will feature even more resources and information than on the cards.

To view the full report, including video coverage, click here.


Next Veterans Mental Health Council Meeting Wednesday, September 30th

Posted September 4, 2015

The next meeting of the Mental Health Council for veteran services in Vermont and New Hampshire will take place on Wednesday, September 30th at 3:00pm at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction. Below are more details on the meeting and how you can participate, including a call-in option:

As you know, we have been meeting as a group every fifth Wednesday to consider together how we can best provide services to Veterans in Vermont and New Hampshire. Your input in these meetings is invaluable and deeply appreciated. This is a reminder that our next opportunity to meet is Wednesday, September 30 at 3:00 pm in Building 8, Room 208. This represents a change in location. You enter Building 1 – the building with the white columns, turn left down the orange tiled hallway, a right at the end of that hall which takes you into Building 8. There is an elevator about halfway down that hall, take it to the 2nd floor, right out of the elevator and 208 is right across in front of you. If you get lost, you can always ask for further direction from Desk 60 in the Building 8 hallway.

If you are unable to join us in person, please call in for the meeting at 802-280-6633 or toll free 866-8387 extension 6633.

We have not traditionally set a formal agenda as we like all participants to have the opportunity to discuss their own concerns. We hope to provide updates on some of the progress we have made with staffing since our last meeting, as well as any new challenges that have arisen in the interim. In particular, we will continue our discussions of the transition to a high acuity inpatient unit.

In the past this meeting has served as a brainstorming session for a number of innovative programs, and we hope to continue this tradition. Please come with any ideas or comments you wish to discuss.

I join my colleagues in expressing our hope that you will be able to participate in the upcoming meeting.


3rd Annual White River Junction VA Medical Center Community Mental Health Summit, July 29th

Posted June 19, 2015

The 3rd annual White River Junction VA Medical Center Community Mental Health Summit will be taking place on July 29th from 11:30 am-3:30 pm at the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Bldg. 44, Room 103 (see map).

This year’s Summit will include three plenary sessions; 1) Panel Presentation on Community Resources Available to Support Family Members of Veterans and Service Members, 2) Discussion and Q+A on Ending Veterans Homelessness, and 3) a Review and Discussion of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (CHOICE Act). For a complete agenda click here.

Please email this form to to register so that they can be sure to accommodate all who wish to attend. Please note that food will not be provided, but you are welcome to bring a bag lunch.


VA Services for Homeless Veterans

Posted May 1, 2015

The VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont State Housing Authority and Vermont Council on Homelessness are committed to the national goal of ending homelessness among Veterans. If you encounter a homeless person who may be a Veteran (served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, deployed with the National Guard or Reserve), please advise them that there are many housing resources & supports through the VA. Please feel free to contact any of the people on this list (PDF file).

For information regarding eligibility status for VA care please call (802) 295-9363 x6281 (or ask the operator for the eligibility office).

The Health Care for Homeless Veterans team (HCHV) mission is to help homeless Veterans access the full range of medical, mental health, and substance abuse treatment at the VA Medical Center and Community Based Outpatient Clinics and to provide homeless Veterans with assistance in accessing community resources, transitional housing, and permanent housing in order to facilitate opportunities for Veterans to improve their well-being.


Is every HOMELESS VETERAN getting needed help?

Posted February 9, 2015

Below is some information from Supportive Services for Veteran Families:

Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) has the resources to help very low and extremely low-income homeless veterans. The general eligibility can be viewed here (PDF file), but a short call to 802-656-3232 can help determine eligibility and start the process to getting housed. SSVF works in the housing first model. So getting the veteran housed is the first priority.

We are in our third year and we are certain there are more homeless veterans than are receiving help. Is the appropriate question being asked at intake? “Are you a Veteran?” has specific meanings. SSVF criteria are for a single day of active duty service and other than a dishonorable discharge. “Do you have any military experience?” is probably a better question at intake.

The SSVF theme for this year is community coordination to end veteran homelessness. We are looking forward to working more closely with you now and in the future.



HUD Announces Drop in Veteran Homelessness – How Vermont Veteran Services Helps

Posted August 29, 2014

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) announced this week that the annual Point-in-Time Count conducted in January 2014 shows a decline of homeless veterans by 33 percent since 2010. This includes a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of veterans sleeping on the street.  From the press release

HUD, VA, USICH, and local partners have used evidenced-based practices like Housing First and federal resources like HUD-VASH (the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher program) to get veterans off the street and into stable housing as quickly as possible. Since 2008, the HUD-VASH program has served a total of 74,019 veterans.

“We have an obligation to ensure that every veteran has a place to call home,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. “In just a few years, we have made incredible progress reducing homelessness among veterans, but we have more work to do. HUD will continue collaborating with our federal and local partners to ensure that all of the men and women who have served our country have a stable home and an opportunity to succeed.”

“The Department of Veterans Affairs and our federal and local partners should be proud of the gains made reducing Veterans’ homelessness,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, “but so long as there remains a Veteran living on our streets, we have more work to do.”

“As a nation, we have proven that homelessness is a problem we can solve,” said U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Laura Green Zeilinger. “Communities all across the country are meeting this costly tragedy with urgency and a focus on helping all veterans and their families achieve safe and stable housing.”

To read the full report click here.

One organization working to help very-low income veteran families in Vermont who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless is Vermont Veteran Services. VVS is operated by the University of Vermont and manages the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program through a grant from the VA. To be eligible, a household must have a combined total monthly income of less than half the area median income, have a head of household or spouse who is a veteran with active duty, with any discharge type other than dishonorable. Priorities are Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn veterans, rural families, and families with dependent children. Program services can include case management, financial assistance, transportation, and legal assistance. Peer services navigators screen potential clients for eligibility and help provide services to obtain or retain stable housing. VVS also manages the Veteran Jail Diversion/Trauma Recovery program on behalf of the Vermont Department of Mental Health and Agency of Human Services through a grant from SAMHSA. More detailed descriptions for each of these programs can be found here. If you or a veteran family you know in Vermont is homeless or in danger of losing their housing please contact VVS at (802) 656-3232.



Vermont Veteran Services SSVF Program Seeking Eligible Families

Posted July 10, 2014

The Vermont Veteran Services SSVF program works to help Vermont veteran households who are literally homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness gain or retain stable housing by providing supportive services.  The program  is managed at the University of Vermont and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Our friends at Capstone Community Action (formerly CVCAC) passed on the following helpful info about the program at yesterday’s VAHC meeting:

Eligible families must have a head of household or spouse who is a U.S. active duty military veteran with any discharge type other than dishonorable, and very-low family income (less than 50% of the Area Median Income, or AMI). The SSVF program targets the poorest families (less than 30% AMI) and veterans of the recent Iraq and Afghanistan deployments as priority cases. Typically, a family must be literally homeless or be facing eviction within 14 days to qualify.

Veteran families are enrolled in the VVS SSVF program only after careful screening for eligibility.  After enrollment, SSVF provides supportive services to participants to help them obtain or retain stable housing. Intensive Case Management is the primary service provided throughout participation in the program. SSVF case managers assist the household to find or retain housing by working closely with them on housing placement, financial counseling, budgeting, employment, VA or state benefits, and linkage to services. In certain cases, case management may be augmented by temporary financial assistance with rent, rental deposits, utility deposits, and other eligible expenses related to secure housing. It should be noted that financial assistance, if available, is limited in amount and duration, and is not guaranteed for any program participant.

Landlords who rent to a household or individual enrolled in SSVF should observe their standard lease process.  Any lease you enter into will be with the veteran household, not with the SSVF program. Participants are solely responsible for adhering to all requirements in the lease, including rental payments. Landlords will be notified by an SSVF program representative in advance if the program will be paying any rental charges for a month. If financial assistance is approved, the landlord will receive a check directly from the University of Vermont on behalf of the VVS SSVF program. It is important to note that any financial assistance is a) limited in duration and amount; b) will never be for more than one month at a time; c) must be approved in advance.

The VVS SSVF program makes every reasonable effort to support its participants in becoming successfully, stably housed. However, potential landlords of SSVF clients must be aware that the ultimate responsibility for compliance with the lease lies solely with the tenant.

Read the full Program Description and Program Information for Landlords to learn more.

For more  information about the VVS SSVF program, call VVS SSVF at 802-656-3232, e-mail, or visit


Housing First Training Events Happening on March 19 in Rutland and March 20 in Burlington

Posted February 18, 2014

Vermont Veteran Services and Pathways Vermont are hosting two Housing First training events that will take place in Rutland and Burlington.

The training, Introduction to Housing First: The Art & Science of Practice, will first take place in Rutland on Wednesday, March 19 and again in Burlington the next day on Thursday, March 20.

In this training attendees will learn about the core principles and practices of the Housing First Model from top experts in the field.  There will be detailed discussion of the five domains that consist of Housing First and how they are applied in a rural setting:

  1. Housing Choice and Structure
  2. Separation of Housing and Services
  3. Service Philosophy
  4. Service Array
  5. Program Structure

There will be ample time for group discussion and questions.  RSVP online today!



Registration Now Open for NEK Veterans Summit

Posted February 6, 2014

Lyndon State College will be hosting the Northeast Kingdom Veterans Summit on March 15, 2014.  Registration is now open.

The purpose of the summit is to bring veterans, their families, and veteran service organizations together to build relationships, stronger connections, and an enhanced regional support network in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and Northern New Hampshire.

Some of the Summit highlights are listed below.  Many more additions will be added in the coming weeks including an excellent array of speakers.

Breakout Sessions will address the following topics:

  • PTSD and TBI
  • Therapy Dogs and PTSD
  • Women Veterans
  • Veterans Employment Benefits and Opportunities
  • Government Consulting and Entrepreneurship
  • Navigating Veterans Benefits
  • Education Benefits 101 for Student Veterans
  • Student Veterans Panel


  • The Stand Down: The Department of Veterans Affairs will be hosting a one-day Stand Down in conjunction with the NEK Veterans Summit.  Stand Downs are one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to provide services to homeless veterans.  Stand Downs are typically one to three day events providing services to homeless Veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment.  Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies who serve the homeless.  The first Stand Down was organized in 1988 by a group of Vietnam Veterans in San Diego.  Since then, Stand Downs have been used as an effective tool in reaching out to homeless veterans, reaching more than 200,000 veterans and their family members between 1994-2000. 
  • The Mobile Vet Center: Available throughout the Summit, the Mobile Vet Center is a 30 foot long bus and is operated by the White River Junction Vet Center.  It provides readjustment counseling and information resources to combat veterans. Like community-based veteran centers, Mobile Vet Centers focus on services that help combat veterans make the transition between military and civilian life.
  • Exhibitor Booths: Over 40 Veteran Service Organizations will have information booths providing a one-stop-shop for veteran services, clubs, and resources.

To keep this event free to veterans and their families, organizers are looking for sponsorships.  Learn more how your organization can provide support here.

To register:

To reserve booth space:

Please visit the NEK Veterans Summit Facebook page:

For more information, contact Thom Anderson at 802-751-9815 or at


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