National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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Step-by-Step

Before beginning a search for assistance available to you, it will be helpful to make a plan. Think about what it is that you need.

Do you need medical, substance abuse or mental health care? Are you ready to work or do you need to learn a job skill? Do you have legal issues that need to be resolved? Do you need to reapply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or VA benefit checks?

Make a list of your needs. This list is a tool to help you get organized and to help you figure out where to look for the kinds of help you may need. A sample list might look like this:

  1. I need a place to live today.
  2. I need a job.
  3. I need clothing to wear to work.
  4. I want to get counseling for PTSD.
  5. I owe child support.
  6. I need to find out what federal benefits I can get as a veteran.

Think about your list as you read through these web pages. Who do you think can help you with each of your needs? There may be one organization able to work with you on many issues, or you may need to contact several agencies.

Keep track of the steps you take, including the dates and names of people you contact for information or assistance. This will help you explain your situation and make sure you don’t repeat steps you have already taken. Although this website provides national addresses for many organizations, we recommend you check your phone book for local, county, and state agencies that can direct you to help that is available in your area.

Click on the topic below to jump directly to that section:

Requesting Information

If writing a letter or email to request information, be clear. Keep it short, to the point, and write legibly. Include the following information:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • A brief statement about your current situation.
  • Your specific request.
  • What you have done so far (Example: I have written to _______ organization and they suggested I contact you).

When contacting an agency for help by mail, phone, or email, be persistent and polite in order to get results. Ask questions if information is not clear to you. Remember that organizations are often staffed by volunteers who are eager to help, but may not have the answers you are looking for. If someone cannot help you, ask them to tell you who can.

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Mailing Address

If you are not enrolled in a residence program, you may not have a fixed address, which means receiving mail and phone calls may be a problem. If staying at a shelter, ask to use that address and telephone number as your contact information. If moving around, ask to receive mail and phone calls for the short term at a local drop-in center, shelter, VA regional office or clinic, local veteran service organization (VSO), or your church. Enrolling in a transitional housing program as soon as possible will give you a fixed address and phone number to use while applying for and receiving employment assistance and other supportive services.

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Housing

This section includes ways to locate emergency shelter, transitional programs and permanent housing assistance. If transitional housing is available, you should try to move out of emergency shelter as quickly as possible. However, there are often waiting lists or interviews for transitional, temporary and public housing, so you should apply now.

Emergency and Transitional Housing

For veterans only

  • Members of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) provide services to homeless veterans nationwide. To find homeless veteran service providers in your area, click here.
  • Every U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center has a Homeless Veteran Program Coordinator who is responsible for helping homeless or at-risk veterans. To find your nearest VA medical center, call 1-877-222-8387 or click here.

For veterans and non-veterans

  • Look in the phone book yellow pages under “Homeless” or “Social Service Organizations” for local shelters and organizations.
  • Look in the phone book blue pages under local, city or county government, "Department of Social Services, Human Services” or “Homeless Shelters.” Also, call the Office of the Mayor for information about local low-income housing coalitions or homeless advocacy groups who may know about what is available.
  • To find a list of emergency shelters for men, women and families in every state, check the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Local Homeless Assistance list.
  • Coalitions for the Homeless are listed in the phone book of many cities and urban counties. You may also find local housing information here.

Long-term or Permanent Housing

For veterans and non-veterans

  • Public housing waiting lists can be long, but the length of time varies from place to place. Even if you are not sure where you want to live yet, apply to get on the waiting list so that you have as many options as possible. To learn how to apply, contact the local housing authority listed in the phone book blue pages under “Local Government, Public Housing Authority.”

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Health

If you have health issues that need to be addressed, contact the nearest VA medical facility or local community clinic for treatment. See below for information on general and more specialized health needs:

If eligible for veterans benefits

  • Every VA medical center has a Homeless Veteran Program Coordinator who helps veterans and their families find resources inside and outside the VA health care system. To find the nearest VA medical center, call 1-877-222-8387 or click here.

If ineligible for veterans benefits

Free or low-cost health care may be available from the following sources:

  • Department of Social Services can tell you where to find health care facilities for the homeless. Check the phone book blue pages under local, city or county government for the phone number.
  • National Health Care for the Homeless Council has a list of health care providers working with homeless people across the nation. For a list of providers in your state, click here.
  • Free clinics are run by many local organizations and communities. Look in the phone book blue pages under “Public Health” to contact a local government office for clinics in your area.
  • The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics has a searchable database and the U.S. Health and Human Services has a searchable database.

Special health information for veterans

All homeless people carry a higher risk of contracting hepatitis C, HIV and tuberculosis (TB) infections, and homeless veterans are at an even higher risk for hepatitis C and TB.

  • If you think you may be at risk for AIDS and HIV infection, contact the nearest VA medical center to get tested and seek counseling. Those at highest risk for AIDS and HIV infection are:
    • People who share needles or syringes to inject drugs or steroids
    • Men who have sex with other men
    • Those born to mothers who have HIV
    • People who received blood transfusions before 1985
    • Anyone who has sex with anyone who is at risk for HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C (HCV) is a serious disease that can cause cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. If you think you are at risk, contact the nearest VA medical center to get tested and seek HCV counseling. You are at risk if:
    • you ever used a needle to inject drugs
    • you had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
    • you were a health care worker and had contact with blood
    • you were on long-term kidney dialysis
    • your mother had hepatitis C when she gave birth to you
  • The Veterans Health Administration also recommends testing if:
    • you are a Vietnam-era veteran
    • you have had exposure to blood on your skin
    • you have had multiple sex partners
    • you have tattoos or body piercings
    • you have ever snorted cocaine
    • you have liver disease
    • you have a history of drinking a lot of alcohol
    • you have had an abnormal liver function test

Dental care is another important concern for the homeless. To learn more about the Homeless Veterans Dental Program and to see if you qualify, click here.

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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Treatment

The following resources may be of help if you are homeless and have substance abuse or mental health care issues, including depression or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If eligible for veterans benefits

  • Contact the Homeless Veteran Program Coordinator at your local VA Medical Center. Click here or call 1-877-222-8387 to find the medical center nearest you, or call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-424-3838.

If not eligible for veterans benefits

  • The Department of Health and Human Services' helpline can refer you to local programs. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness lists community mental health services providers here. You may also call 1-800-950-6264.
  • Mental Health America offers support groups, rehabilitation, socialization and housing services through more than 320 community organizations located across the country. Call 1-800-969-6642, or find a local office here.

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Employment

Finding a job may be difficult and can seem overwhelming, but with persistance it can happen. This section features resources and supportive services that will help you build job skills, find a job and access other employment services.

For veterans only

  • The Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program (DVOP) and Local Veterans' Employment Representatives (LVER) work to help veterans find and keep jobs. DVOP specialists develop job and training opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities, link veterans with employers and ensure follow-up services are provided. LVER specialists are located in state employment offices (also called One-Stop Career Centers or employment offices). To find a DVOP or LVER near you, visit your state employment service office listed in the phone book blue pages under “State Government, Employment Agencies,” or click here for regional and state U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offices.
  • Many organizations provide employment and training services to homeless veterans to help them re-enter the workforce through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP). These organizations provide job search support, counseling, job placement assistance, remedial education, classroom and on-the-job training, and referrals to supportive services. To find out if there is a program near you, call your DOL-Veterans' Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS) state director – a listing can be found here.
  • VA 's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) VetSuccess Program assists veterans with service-connected disabilities prepare for, find and keep suitable jobs. Services that may be provided include comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation, vocationial counseling, employment services such as job-training and work-readiness assistance, post-secondary training, and supportive rehabilitation and independent living services. If you are not eligible for these services, a VA counselor may help you find other options, goals or programs. Call 1-877-222-8387 or click here for the VA regional office (VARO) nearest you.
  • Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) is a VA vocational rehabilitation program that endeavors to match and support work-ready veterans in competitive jobs. In some locations CWT is also known as Veterans Industries. Contact your local VA medical center to see if you qualify. For a list of CWT program locations, click here.
  • The VA website can help job seekers prepare resumes, find on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs, and search for job openings by state. For more information about VA employment assistance services and programs, and for contact information in your area, visit the VetSuccess page here.
  • Many community-based organizations provide employment preparation and placement services. Employment assistance is often part of a holistic program offering housing and other supportive services. For a list of organizations in your area that can provide information and local employment services, click here or call 1-800-VET-HELP.

For veterans and non-veterans

  • Every state government has an employment services and assistance department that provides information and supportive services to job seekers. Though each state is different, most offer comprehensive job listings, veteran-specific assistance programs (usually in partnership with DOL and VA programs), and information about unemployment benefits and training programs. Search your state’s employment assistance website for services that are offered, application policies, contact information, and office locations. On most internet search engines, simply type in the state name followed by “employment.”
  • Each state has a Vocational Rehabilitation program that helps people with disabilities find and keep jobs. Look in the phone book blue pages under “Department of Human Resources” or “Department of Education” (it may be different for each state), then “Rehabilitation”; you can also type your state's name followed by "employment" into an online search engine, and look for vocational rehabilitation programs and information.

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General Assistance

Check the local phone book yellow pages under “Homeless” or “Social Service Organizations” for a list of local organizations that offer different services, which may include clothing, public transportation tokens, emergency shelters, and more. You may need to contact several agencies to find all the services you need.

Services provided by government agencies are listed in the blue pages found near the front of the phone book. Check with your local public assistance office to find out about available programs and their guidelines.

The Internet can be helpful to find information about VA benefits and community resources in your area. Use the online yellow pages, search the classified sections of various newspapers, view government pages regarding veterans benefits, etc.; locate resources using key words such as veteran, homeless, jobs, or employment. Our site's "Resources" pages provide links to various federal agency home pages, veteran-related resources, and homeless assistance organizations.

For veterans only

  • State Departments of Veterans Affairs provide many services that differ from state to state but may include assistance with the benefits claims process, readjustment counseling, crisis intervention, loans, family counseling and employment assistance. For contact information in your state, click here or look in the phone book blue pages under “State Government, Veterans Affairs.”
  • Stand Downs are one- to three-day events offering homeless veterans a broad range of necessities including food, clothing, medical services, legal and mental health assistance, job counseling and referrals. A list of scheduled Stand Downs can be found here.

For veterans and non-veterans

  • National Coalition for the Homeless has a directory of shelters and homeless assistance programs here – this does not list every program in the country, so be sure to check your phone book for local programs. The website also includes a directory of statewide and local advocacy organizations. Not all of these coalitions provide direct services, but they may be able to tell you about local programs or services.
  • Salvation Army provides services, including shelter, for homeless individuals and families. Check the phone book for a local post or click here.
  • United Way provides a variety of services through local organizations. Check the phone book for a local post or locate local organizations here. Dial 2-1-1 in some states to access local emergency services.
  • Local churches and faith-based organizations such as Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and Volunteers of America may have a variety of programs to assist you. Find these organizations by calling your county or city Department of Social Services. Check the phone book blue pages for the number. You may also find organizations that can provide assistance in the yellow pages under "Homeless" or "Social Service Organizations."
  • Traveler’s Aid International provides emergency travel vouchers for homeless individuals and families in crisis. To find help in your area, call 1-202-546-1127 or click here.

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Financial Help

For veterans only

  • The American Legion provides Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) from its national headquarters to help maintain a stable environment for minor children of veterans. To obtain an application, contact a local post.

For veterans and non-veterans

  • If you are unemployed with little or no income, you may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly the federal Food Stamp Program. The average monthly benefit in 2008 was about $101 per person. Call the toll-free information number at 1-800-221-5689, or find a list of hotlines for each state here. You can also contact the local Department of Human Services, many drop-in shelters and legal aid services for an application.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and disability benefits can be applied for with the Social Security Administration. Food stamps can be applied for with the SSI application. It normally takes about three months to review an SSI application, so apply as soon as possible. It is best to get help filling out the application. For detailed information or assistance, call 1-800-772-1213 or call your local social security administration office listed in the phone book blue pages; you can also go here.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an Emergency Food and Shelter Program to help prevent homelessness. Contact your local Office of the Mayor or United Way to ask who awards this money in your area and what the rules are.

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Legal Help

Veteran status issues

  • Talk to a Veterans Advocate Service Officer for help with discharge upgrades, seeking benefits and filing a VA claim (see our section “Seeking Federal Benefits”).

Other legal issues

  • Most law is state-specific. Most common legal problems are governed by the law in the state where you live or where the problem occurred. When looking for legal help, make sure that information you find applies to your state, or that the lawyer or other service provider is qualified to work in your state.
  • The American Bar Association's website has guidelines about free legal services and links to directories of legal aid offices and pro bono programs.
  • Legal Services or Legal Aid offices have staff lawyers to provide free legal help to low-income clients. Look in the yellow pages for your local Legal Aid office or click here.
  • Pine Tree Legal Assistance's website has a list of organizations across the nation that provide free legal help to qualifying clients.
  • Lawyers in private practice sometimes volunteer in "pro bono" programs to take cases for poor clients free of charge. Check the yellow pages to contact your Local Bar Association, or click here.

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Toll-Free Numbers

Crisis and other toll-free numbers are often listed on the front cover or in first few pages of the phone book. You may also want to check under “Social Services” in the blue or yellow pages for additional hotlines and local numbers.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs
    • Benefits: 1-800-827-1000
    • Call Center for Homeless Vets: 1-877-424-3838
    • Medical Centers: 1-800-827-1000
    • Persian Gulf War Helpline: 1-800-749-838
  • Focus on Recovery Helpline
    A 24-hour national alcohol and drug abuse addition and treatment hotline: 1-800-374-2800 or 1-800-234-1253
  • National AIDS Hotline
    Talk to someone who knows about HIV/AIDS and can tell you about AIDS services in your city or state: 1-800-CDC-INFO
  • National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
    1-800-838-4357 (1-800-VET-HELP)
  • National Crisis Hotline
    1-800-784-2433
  • National Suicide Support Number
    1-888-784-2433 (1-888-SUICIDE)

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Phone/Website List


Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Benefits: 1-800-827-1000
  • Call Center for Homeless Vets: 1-877-424-3838
  • Medical Centers: 1-800-827-1000
  • Persian Gulf War Helpline: 1-800-749-8387
  • Locate the closest VAMC or VA Regional Office: 1-877-222-8387

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
1-800-838-4357 (1-800-VET-HELP)

Focus on Recovery Helpline (alcohol/drugs)
1-800-374-2800 or 1-800-234-1253

National AIDS Hotline
1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

Traveler’s Aid International
1-202-546-1127

Department of Health and Human Services Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service
1-800-662-4357

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
1-800-950-6264

Mental Health America
1-800-969-NMHA

Food Stamps information line
1-800-221-5689

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) information line
1-800-772-1213

National Personnel Records Center fax line (to obtain DD214)
1-314-801-9195

Veteran Service Organizations

The American Legion
1-317-630-1200
www.legion.org

AMVETS
1-877-726-8387
www.amvets.org

Blinded Veterans Association
1-800-669-7079
www.bva.org

Disabled American Veterans
1-877-I Am A Vet (426-2838)
www.dav.org

Jewish War Veterans
1-202-265-6280
www.jwv.org

Military Order of the Purple Heart
1-888-668-1656
www.purpleheart.org

Non Commissioned Officers Association
1-800-662-2620
www.ncoausa.org

Paralyzed Veterans of America
1-800-424-8200
www.pva.org

Veterans of Foreign Wars
General Information 1-816-756-3390
National Service Officers Helpline 1-800-VFW-1899
www.vfw.org

Vietnam Veterans of America
1-800-882-1316
www.vva.org

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333 1/2 Pennsylvania Avenue SE  |  Washington, D.C.  |  20003  |  t-f. 1.800.VET.HELP  |  v. 202.546.1969  |  f. 202.546.2063  |  info@nchv.org

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