The Pinellas County Department of Health and Human Services, which operates the Office of Veterans Services, has announced plans to expand services to homeless veterans living in Pinellas County.
With more than 100,000 veterans in Pinellas County, the county ranks third in the state of Florida in the number of veterans living in a county. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately one-third of the adult homeless population is veterans.
A large percentage of these veterans served in the Vietnam War, as well as a growing number of veterans recently returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Many of these veterans are suffering from the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, physical disabilities, and behavioral health and substance abuse issues.
In an effort to better meet the needs of this population, the Health and Human Services Department is planning to increase outreach efforts and services to homeless veterans that will help get them off the streets, into housing and treatment programs, provide them with quality healthcare, and give them vocational training and access to programs and services they need.
The goal of this initiative is to target the county’s at-risk veterans and enable them to return to self-sufficiency.
Plans include the addition of regular visits by staff to shelters and soup kitchens that serve homeless veterans. These locations include Pinellas Hope in Pinellas Park and Safe Harbor in Largo.
The county is also dedicating an additional team of case managers to work one-on-one with homeless veterans to connect them to benefits and services designed to help them heal and once again become healthy productive citizens.
The county is planning an increase in locations where these services will be provided. There are currently two locations where veterans and their families are provided assistance in applying for Federal VA benefits. This fall, the county will be adding two new sites for a total of four locations where these services will be provided.
Effective Oct. 1, services for veterans will be offered at the following locations Pinellas County Department of Health and Human Services locations:
- 647 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg
- 2189 Cleveland St., Suite 230, Clearwater
- 8751 Ulmerton Rd., Largo
- 301 S. Disston Ave., Tarpon Springs
The services traditionally offered by the Pinellas County Office of Veterans Services, which include assisting veterans and their families in applying for VA benefits, such as VA compensation, educational benefits, health care, nursing home care, aid and attendance, home loans, life insurance, and funeral and survivor benefits will continue to be offered to all veterans and their families.