I sat down recently with a veteran who worked at the Vocational Rehabilitation Center at the VA. I asked him how we can improve the quality of life of our disabled and homeless veterans.

This is a burning question for me as I raise a child of compassion who wants to help when she observes homeless in general standing on street corners with their hands out, begging for cash, begging for food. So, who is helping our homeless? All of us. It happens via taxes that go to good services, services provided by the Veterans Administration.

Veterans receive three main services at the Vocational Rehab Center: medical, housing, jobs. The criteria seems to be simple: ask, be willing to be helped, stay drug free. When those entry points are met the VA can impact and change lives.

They offer a walk-in triage process, where the veteran’s needs are assessed and they try to immediately get them life saving and the life continuing services. Once those entry level needs are established they move to the next level and offer education, retraining, and job benefits. The goal is to place veterans into the community as viable and employable candidates in the workforce.

Local businesses can participate and help veterans. Businesses are contacted to assess their business needs. These are matched up with veterans who posses compatible skills. Jobs are entry level to managerial. the vets are 100 percent certified to work in a public setting, and the business can negotiate a pay rate as low as minimum wage plus one dollar, with all the benefits paid by the VA. The VA also provides the tools the job candidate needs to perform the job.

The jobs are local and as far away as the oil spill in the gulf. To receive these levels of support veterans need to remain drug free and counseling and medical support is available to support that choice. The more effort the veteran invests, the more benefits which includes housing support. It's a chance for a business to invest in the community without handing cash out the car window. They get an employee with a support system at low cost.

Veterans Administration 
1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
Vancouver WA 98661