Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Supporting Myrtle Beach's Homeless Veterans
The Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic provides year-round services for homeless Veterans along the Grand Strand. There are currently 167 HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Vouchers maintained by the clinic for placement in Horry and Georgetown County. The HUD-VASH program provides rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the VA homeless program. Targeted Veterans are those that are chronically homeless, in high risk groups, women with children, and those returning from recent wars. Veterans must also meet income criteria for consideration.
"As a recovering alcoholic and formerly homeless Veteran myself, the Veterans I see are a daily reminder that recovery is possible for every person, myself included," said Certified Peer Support Specialist Walter Gibbins, a member of the Myrtle Beach VA homeless team. "We can all lead a successful, meaningful and happy life."
One Veteran in particular that Gibbins has connected with is Ezekiel Tucker. Tucker is a U.S. Army Veteran who, after discharge, found himself with a severe drinking problem and homeless. After living under a bridge for over 20 years, Tucker is now successfully enrolled in the HUD-VASH program and has been in permanent housing for over two years.
"When Mr. Tucker came to us he had no hope, no support and no way of providing for himself," said Gibbins. "By learning to advocate for himself, he has made a tremendous change in his life, he has surrounded himself with positive supporters, and is now a healthy, hopeful individual who has a lot to offer anyone that comes into contact with him. Mr. Tucker has become a supporter himself by being an example of recovery for others to see. It has been my great honor to be able to be a small part of Mr. Tucker's recovery."
The Myrtle Beach VA Homeless Program also offers walk-in clinics to asses if Veterans qualify for the HUD-VASH Program. The clinic is held in Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic Annex Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m., and additionally in Georgetown at the Georgetown Public Housing Authority on Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
On September 18, The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center along with the Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic, in partnership with AARP South Carolina and the Veteran's Welcome Home and Resource Center, Combat Veterans Association, Military Officers Association of America, and Horry Georgetown Technical College, will host the 2nd annual Myrtle Beach Stand Down for Homelessness event. Last year the event provided services to more than 200 homeless Veterans seeking help along the Grand Strand.