After Backlash, VA Clarifies It Is Not Ending the Homeless Vet Program

House VA committee Chair Phil Roe

We ask that you work together to secure Senate passage of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017 before the end of the year so the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs are given enough time to reach a final agreement before funding for the Choice Program is depleted again.

"In the wake of the scandal in care at VA hospitals in Phoenix and around the country, we vowed to guarantee our veterans timely access to quality treatment", McCain said.

"The creation of this committee supports VA's goal of educating and empowering Veterans and their families through outreach and advocacy", said VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD. However, VA Secretary David Shulkin responded that there would now be no change to the program. "This program has made a profound difference in the lives of more than 138,000 veterans since 2009, so any major decision on this program should first consider the serious consequences it could have on the veterans who might depend on it".

"There are still almost 40,000 veterans who are homeless, and well over a million estimated to be at risk of becoming homeless", VanFonda said.

The plan would immediately divert $265 million from HUD-VASH and then reallocate the remaining $195 million in 2018. The report showed more than 40,000 veterans nationwide are homeless, a slight uptick over 2016 numbers largely due to a spike in the Los Angeles area, where the cost of housing has skyrocketed.

Shulkin announced Thursday that the department would not cut the program.

The move outraged veteran's advocates, who asserted that the program had been invaluable in helping vulnerable former service members, particularly those who suffered from mental illness.

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Plenty of individuals were upset, including Elisha Harig-Blaine, a U.S. Marine veteran and Principal Housing Associate for the National League of Cities.

The fearless men and women who have worn our nation's uniform must have timely access to high-quality, comprehensive and veteran-centric care.

"Demand has demonstrated that veterans want and need health care options in their communities, but there must be reform at the VA to create a system that works for them", added Moran, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies. All 14 members signed a strongly worded letter, dated November 7, urging VA to reconsider its decision - a rare demonstration of bipartisan unity.

Shulkin himself applauded the program just days before the conference call when he and HUD Secretary Ben Carson visited a HUD-VASH facility in Washington.

Democrat Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, a member of the subcommittee, blasted the decision as the Trump administration's "new low".

The decision to shift funding from the HUD-VASH program to a general fund at the discretion of local VA officials was especially surprising because the program is widely respected.

A VA spokesman declined requests from CNN to explain what had led Shulkin and the VA to change positions on the HUD-VASH funding.

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