Van Takes the High
(Tech) Road to Help Homeless Veterans
Florida Homeless Veteran Coordinator Kevin O'Donnell, Florida
Congresswoman Ilena Ross-Lehtinen, Volunteers of America President
Kathryn E. Spearman, and Miami VA Medical Center Homeless
Coordinator Dan Robbin.
A new VA medical
and benefits service center on wheels is traveling the roads of
Florida, providing immediate assistance to homeless veterans throughout
of Veterans Affairs and the Volunteers of America of Florida, a
nonprofit organization that helps the homeless, teamed up to launch
the Florida Veterans Mobile Service Center, a 43-foot mobile medical/dental
clinic and veterans benefits office. In addition to a fully equipped
dental clinic and medical exam room, the vehicle also has bathroom
and shower facilities, a microwave, refrigerator and a wheelchair
and a staff car travel caravan-style taking eight to ten VA counselors
and volunteers to areas where the homeless gather. They set up a
tent offering food and clothing, as well as portable showers and
toilets that hook up to the vehicles generators.
phone connections, two satellite links, two laptop computers and
a color printer link the counselors with the states VA medical
centers and benefits office, allowing them to access the veterans
records and medical histories. Video-conferencing equipment allows
VA physicians to interview patients directly from the mobile unit.
and volunteers began their maiden voyage in the Florida Keys, and
are working their way up the state. After identifying areas where
the homeless congregate, they stay at each encampment two or three
days in an effort to gain the veterans trust.
was funded in part through a grant to the Volunteers of America
of Florida from the VA Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program.
Veterans service organizations throughout Florida also donated funds
to help purchase the $311,000 vehicle, and will continue to help
with operating costs.
is to reach a segment of the veteran population that generally wont
come to a VA facility, because they either dont trust the
government or cant travel long distances. One of every three
homeless adults is likely to be a veteran and Floridas homeless
veteran population is estimated to be between 17,000 and 23,000.
The VA Mobile Service Center is expected to serve more than 200
veterans a month.