Jodi Frederick, clinical director of homeless programs at the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System, was the guest speaker at the Green Valley Chapter Military Officers Association dinner meeting on September 20. She was delighted to see the generosity of the members who brought cases of bottled water, snacks and other items for the homeless veterans in the Tucson area.
Ms. Frederick has been with the VA for 5 ½ years and works with community partners in the goal to end veteran homelessness. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked in the field of mental health and substance abuse for 28 years.
She spoke about the many services that the Tucson VA provides to homeless veterans. Veterans are sometimes at an increased risk of homelessness due to their financially inconsistent past. She related that the homeless veterans can come in, take a shower, get a haircut, a snack and shop at no cost for some clothing. They have a laundry facility where veterans can wash and dry their clothing. While their clothes are in the washer, they can make appointments for job search help and resume preparation. They even have a veterans court for those who have broken the law. A peer group determines and recommends the appropriate punishment to authorities. There are several licensed social workers on the staff who work with each veteran and his/her family to help them get their finances in order and get assimilated into life off the streets.
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Although the government provides most of the funding for these programs, it takes an army of generous donors, both individual and organized groups, to keep some of the programs going. Their generosity adds the extra touches of the snacks, fresh water, clothing and grooming supplies that make life a little bit easier for the homeless.