By Governor Jan Brewer
Few things are more important than properly caring for those Americans who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect our way of life and defend our nation from enemies.
Through their selfless actions, our veterans have earned the respect and gratitude of all who have benefited from their honorable service.
Unfortunately, some in our veteran community seem to have fallen through the cracks.
For far too long, homeless veterans have been deprived of the comforts and security that most of us take for granted — blessings, ironically, that they themselves faced injury and death to secure for their fellow citizens.
That there are veterans living in misery on the streets of America has long been a source of shame. It is a grave disservice to the men and women who have bravely served us.
That ends now.
In Arizona, we are working together to erase the scourge of homelessness among our state’s veterans.
In 2009, when the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Gen. Eric Shinseki, announced his five-year plan to end homelessness among America’s veterans, the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services became the first state veterans agency in the nation to create its own Homeless Veterans Division.
In collaboration with public and private community partners, the state veterans agency created the Arizona Action Plan to End Homelessness Among Veterans.
The plan, under the umbrella of the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness, coordinates the efforts of our state and local governments with those of our partners in the community, including: the Arizona Department of Housing, Phoenix, Mesa, Community Bridges, Valley of the Sun United Way, Victory Place, Encanto Pointe, Madison Pointe and many others.
Together, these partners have put aside the silos that have long hindered success and — working toward a common purpose and goal — we’ve been able to identify the most vulnerable and chronically homeless veterans in metro Phoenix.
Using the federal Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, our coalition has been able to provide these servicemen and -women the housing they require and deserve.
On Saturday, one day after Arizona’s 102nd birthday, we will officially announce that all chronically homeless veterans in metro Phoenix have been permanently housed and are off the streets.
As governor, meeting this goal hand in hand with our many community partners is one of my proudest accomplishments.
Moving ahead, the state veterans agency and its community partners look forward to using the same successful plan that has worked in the Phoenix area and translating that achievement to all of Arizona’s homeless veterans.
What we are accomplishing here in Arizona can and should be done in other states — and with the United States’ entire homeless population.
The Arizona Action Plan is a successful model of how we as a nation can use federal, state and local resources in a coordinated effort to end veteran homelessness once and for all.