Three Beckley, West Virginia, Veterans had different experiences, backgrounds, challenges and journeys through life. Yet in recent years all found themselves facing the same problem: actual or near-homelessness in southcentral West Virginia.
- For Michael Pendley, a 41-year-old father of three and post-9/11 Veteran, homelessness followed after he lost his job.
- For Ayana Jones, a 40-year-old mother of three and another Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom, homelessness came after she experienced domestic violence and went through a divorce.
- An anonymous third Veteran was on the verge of eviction, which was caused by an untreated mental health diagnosis that resulted in lost employment, depleted savings and immobilizing bouts of panic.
When the Veterans turned to the Beckley VA Medical Center for assistance, Cynthia Pugh was ready. As Beckley’s Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) case manager, Pugh sat down with each Veteran to assess their situations and set goals for securing permanent housing, employment and other services.
“Every Veteran’s situation is different, and each has personal goals,” Pugh said. “As HUD-VASH case manager, I make sure they are connected to permanent housing and then assist them with achieving whatever’s next.”
A key entry point for all three Veterans to exit or avoid homelessness is HUD-VASH, which provides housing choice vouchers through HUD as well as case management and other supports through VA.
“But addition to HUD-VASH, I can connect Veterans to an array of VA programs and services to make sure they have what they need to achieve their goals,” Pugh said.
Within two weeks of being screened for HUD-VASH eligibility, Pugh secured a housing voucher for Mr. Pendley that quickly led to permanent housing.
Thanks to their grit and determination—and Pugh’s strong assist—these Veterans are now permanently housed and are looking forward to bright futures.
After becoming housed, Mr. Pendley reenergized his career search and landed a pharmaceutical sales job near his new home. He plans to exit HUD-VASH soon.
Ms. Jones now enjoys a more independent, purposeful life, and has started the process of buying her own home. She is active in her community and serves as a volunteer at local domestic violence shelters, churches and Veteran clinics.
The anonymous Veteran is in a much better state, too. The Veteran is engaged in health care, has left HUD-VASH and achieved a personal goal of home ownership.
“Having a home lets our Veterans focus on what’s most important—their health and their futures,” Pugh said. “Those of us at Beckley’s HUD-VASH program are incredibly honored to provide these Veterans with the hand up they needed to get a fresh start.”