The transition from active military service to civilian life can challenge veterans and put a strain on a city’s homelessness resources.
In an attempt to address issues from homelessness to inaccessible health care, the St. Louis Veterans Association Medical Center has teamed up with The Salvation Army to build a new Veterans Residence near Washington and Locust.
Host Don Marsh spoke with Major Lonneal Richardson, Division Commander for the Midland Division of The Salvation Army and Joanne Joseph, Homeless Programs Supervisor at the VA Medical Center, about the new center’s goals.
Navy Veteran Rob Lawless joined the panel to describe his experience of transitioning back to civilian life. Lawless plans to move into the new residence in the coming days.
“I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD. I was a submarine sailor during the Cold War... There were some mental health issues that were never addressed. It’s hard to maintain medication compliance. And once that happens, you make a series of poor decisions, and you can find yourself on the street in a hurry,” Lawless said.
The center emphasizes what they call a “permanent solutions” approach to housing and care.
“Historically, we’ve approached the issue more in an emergency fashion, so we wait until someone shows up at our doorstep and they don’t have anywhere to go. So we’ve moved that model considerably over the past few years... we [are trying] to address prevention issues,” Joseph said.
Many of the residents also enroll in treatment programs through the Salvation Army.
“As we look at our military structure, it’s often brigades that come together and they work on assignments as a unit. And we see no difference in this particular setting. As vets come together looking and seeking to be self-sufficient, to get over addictions… they do it together as a group,” Richardson said.
Healthcare for Homeless Veterans
24/7 assistance line: National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: 1-877-4AID-VET
St. Louis Salvation Army
With assistance from production intern Ariana Tobin.