Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Community Resource and Referral Center Opened
Department of Veterans Affairs officials, community leaders and a group of formerly homeless Veterans joined together June 5 to cut the ribbon and ceremoniously open the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center's newest endeavor – the Community Resource and Referral Center. The mission of the center is to provide one-stop service, in collaboration with local community and government partners, to serve both homeless Veterans and Veterans at risk for homelessness and their families.
VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson was on hand to provide keynote remarks. He was joined in celebration by U.S. Senator Tim Scott, Palmetto Goodwill Chief Executive Officer Robert Smith, North Charleston City Councilman Ed Astle, VA Southeast Network Interim Director Thomas Smith and Charleston VAMC Director Scott Isaacks, as well as more than 100 VA staff members, community partners and Veterans.
"On any given night, 50,000 men and women who were willing to put their lives on the line in defense of freedom are homeless," said Scott. "As a community, we are ready to put a stake in the ground and say, 'Not here. Not now. Not on our watch.' This new center is how we will honor our promise to our Veterans. This is a place where they can come and find help in a time of desperate need."
The new CRRC provides more than 4,000 square feet of space to aid homeless Veterans and includes 12 workstations, seven private offices, an exam room, two group meeting rooms, and men and women locker rooms equipped with showers.
"Our Homeless Program deploys two important approaches that help Veterans get the care they deserve," Isaacks said. "First, our 'No Wrong Door' policy implements a process where anyone can refer Veterans to the program, including VA staff, outside agencies and Veteran self-referrals. Second, the 'Housing First' model enables us to find housing for the Veteran first, and then provide the wrap-around services they need to have long-term success – services such as medical treatment, mental health appointments, substance abuse treatment clinics and housing case management."
VA services provided on site at the CRRC will include Health Care for Homeless Veterans walk-in clinic, eligibility and enrollment, outreach and intake service, short and long-term housing case management, assessment for VA Grant Per Diem for transitional housing, assessment for HUD VA Supported Housing for permanent supported housing, telehealth services to VA outpatient clinics, educational groups, and more.
VA staff will be joined in the center by several community entities, including Palmetto Goodwill, One 80 Place Supportive Services for Veterans Families, Family Services, Inc., South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation, Charleston County School District Office of Adult Education, Social Security Administration, Lowcountry Homeless Coalition and Veterans Benefits Administration.
"In our mission to end Veteran homeless by the end of 2016, we have created facilities like this Community Resource and Referral Center that are true examples of best-in-class government and of collaborative efforts across government agencies and up and down the line at the community level," said Gibson. "This is an outstanding example of how we are transforming our agency by fostering a culture of continuous improvement. VA has already committed more than $1 billion toward eradicating homelessness in our Veteran population. Working together, we can and will end Veteran homelessness - it’s the right thing to do."
The new Community Resource and Referral Center is located at 2424 City Hall Lane in North Charleston and will be open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Disabled American Veterans vans will provide transportation to and from the Charleston VAMC twice daily. The vans will leave the medical center at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The CRRC is also conveniently accessible via community bus line.