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3/13/2014 6:00:00 AM
Helping homeless veterans, no matter how many there are
Homeless population hard to quantify
KINGMAN - While many agree there's a problem with homeless military veterans, there's less agreement on their numbers.

According to Dawn-Marie Hayden, case manager for the Veterans Resource Centers of America, there are about 2,700 military veterans in Mohave County.

About 14 percent of them, or almost 400, are homeless, she said. And no one is sure how many homeless veterans are living in Arizona, she said.

Many of those homeless veterans make themselves unavailable for the annual counts sponsored by Continuum of Care coalitions, which go out the last weekend of January each year throughout the U.S. to number homeless veterans.

The last count showed 1,654 homeless veterans in Arizona.

A 2013 study on homelessness, including among veterans, by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development showed there were 1,008 homeless veterans in Arizona.

But more homeless veterans - about 2,000 - showed up for the Arizona Standdown this year, which took place in Maricopa, Bullhead City, Flagstaff, Pinal, Prescott and Tucson.

The Arizona Standdown is the state's largest outreach event for homeless veterans to help them gain access to shelter, services and healthcare.

"There's no solid number of the amount of homeless veterans in Arizona," said Hayden.

"But we do know that Arizona is one of five states with the largest increase in homeless veterans last year, and that's because of the weather here."

The other states are Florida, Kentucky, Oregon and Illinois.

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Dawn-Marie Hayden takes special pride in being able to help those who don't always want to help themselves.

Hayden, a case manager for Veterans Resource Centers of America, finds immediate and long-term housing for military veterans who are facing eviction or are currently homeless. Hayden, who joined the organization in November, said her clients aren't always grateful and sometimes don't even want her help.

In fact, she noted, many of those she assists suffer from a myriad of issues that keep them wandering down the road, including alcohol and drug abuse, gambling addiction, mental health problems and joblessness. Hayden said those issues must be dealt with to move those veterans into housing and keep them there long-term.

"It just makes good sense to do this," said Hayden. "These homeless veterans are human beings. They're men and women who served our country and gave us the freedoms we have today. But freedom isn't free. Those in the military know to never leave anyone behind, but we as a society don't follow that rule."

Hayden discussed the problems associated with homeless veterans during a presentation Wednesday at the James L. Stanfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10386. Her organization is part of Veterans Resource Centers of America, a 40-year-old nonprofit agency partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs on homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing for veterans. VRCOA has 13 sites in California, Nevada and Arizona.

Through a Supportive Services for Veterans and Families grant of $2 million, the agency provides case management, helping veterans meet their goals and find and keep housing. It also offers financial assistance in securing housing, personal financial planning, and information and referrals to other organizations that work with veterans.

Veterans Resource Centers of America opened in Bullhead City on Oct. 1, and its outreach into Kingman began soon after. Hayden said referrals from Kingman have steadily increased, and while there is no office here, she spends each Wednesday in the city, handling about 10 new intakes and follow-ups, and checking the areas where homeless veterans congregate. Hayden said Kingman has more open areas of land than Bullhead City for camping.

Hayden remembers one of her first Kingman clients, a 60-year-old veteran who had been homeless for five years and was living off his Social Security payment of $900 a month. He found a temporary home in a dilapidated trailer that had no electricity or water. Hayden said she helped him locate better housing, and when she visited him later, he gave her a tour of his tiny residence, pointing out a bed, a refrigerator that kept his food cold and a small television set.

"He was just pleased as punch with what he had," said Hayden. "I talk to him often and he is so happy because his house is warm and safe. And I'm so pleased to see that smile on his face. I get paid to do this job, and his reaction is the fringe benefit. It's priceless, and no one can take that away."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Dawn Marie Hayden

Mr. Byrne,

There are 27,000 Veterans in Mohave County and this is only an arbitrary number since Mohave County is considered "Balance of the State" when it comes to numbers.

Posted: Friday, March 14, 2014
Article comment by: Men & Fathers Matter

Both sexes deserve equal attention. But you hear little about helping men. As a man I can tell you there's not much out there when it comes to support. For a women there's many more services and homeless shelters to request help. Men are tossed to the side of the road, begging for money and food. Men sleep in the wilderness and streets eat out of trash cans. Even our clothes are tadder and torn or dirty. "your a man go get a job!" Frankly it feels like a war has been waged against men. With are personality just being men we don't say much. We have pride and are often optimist. But I know how hard it is to pick yourself back up without family support. Its practically impossible. So its nice to see an article about help men. But what were doing as a community is not enough.

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Byrne

According to Ms Hayden there are only about 2,700 veterans in Mohave county. Is that number a typo or is she that poorly informed?

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