VA New England Healthcare System
A "Safe Haven" for All
A new pilot program through the Bedford VA called Safe Haven was recently established to ensure that Veterans who have fallen on hard times will not “fall through the cracks” of VA housing programs.The Veterans who participate in the program are mainly “chronically homeless and actively experiencing issues with substance abuse or mental health disorders,” says Jim Chaplin, LICSW, VA liaison for the Safe Haven program. Many have not had success in traditional treatment programs where, if a Veteran returns to substance abuse, they are immediately discharged from the program. Once released, they often have no place else to go and end up sleeping in cars, on the street, or at area shelters.
Safe Haven House
The primary goal of Safe Haven is simply to shelter these Veterans who are at great risk. The program has two separate houses – one in Boston and one in Framingham – and each have 10 rooms with one bed per room. Although Veterans have minimal requirements to remain in the program, there are still guidelines that must be followed. For example, drug or alcohol possession and use on the premises is prohibited. Residents are also required to meet with a case manager every week to discuss future housing goals.
“Safety is paramount and Safe Haven is tasked with providing a safe and healthy environment for its residents so the Veterans staying at the house can start making better decisions about their care and their lives,” said Chaplin. Improving the quality of life for these Veterans by encouraging them to take advantage of available VA programs, as well as the resources within the community, is yet another key component of Safe Haven.
While the goal for VA is to eliminate homelessness for our country’s Veterans by 2015, Chaplin said, “It’s a success to plant the seed and get them to think about making changes.”
For more information contact Jim Chaplin by email at James.Chaplin@va.gov or by phone at 781-983-9207.