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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department Veterans Affairs (VA) and Veterans Matter — a program that provides security deposits to homeless Veterans in 14 states and the District of Columbia — today announced that, through their joint efforts, they have helped 1,500 Veterans exit homelessness and move into permanent housing.

Veterans Matter, supported by John Mellencamp, Dusty Hill, Katy Perry, Kid Rock and many others in the entertainment industry, was established in 2012 by the Toledo, Ohio-based nonprofit 1Matters.org, and focuses exclusively on providing security deposits to homeless Veterans who qualify for rental subsidies from the joint U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. In providing these security deposits, Veterans Matter removes a major barrier to securing stable housing for homeless Veterans.

“VA can’t end Veteran homelessness alone,” said Anthony Love, senior adviser and director of community engagement for the Veterans Health Administration Homeless Programs Office. “Partnerships with innovative, community-oriented groups, such as Veterans Matter, have played a major role in the decline in Veteran homelessness in recent years.”

“In collaboration with VA, we are able to make a greater impact for homeless Veterans than we could on our own,” said Ken Leslie, who founded Veterans Matter and was once homeless himself.

Once Veterans are housed through the HUD-VASH program, VA case managers can connect them to other supportive services — such as employment assistance, health care, mental health treatment and substance use counseling — to help them recover and improve their ability to stay housed.

Based on data released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2016, since 2010, there has been an estimated 47 percent reduction in homelessness among Veterans across the country. Further, HUD said, between 2015 and 2016 alone, the number of homeless Veterans decreased by 17 percent. In addition, of all VA homeless programs that assist Veterans, HUD-VASH assists the largest number of Veterans who have experienced long-term or repeated homelessness. And of those Veterans in the program, 91 percent remain housed. The program has allocated more than 88,000 housing vouchers nationwide to date.

Pennsylvania Just Made It Illegal To Lie About Military Service | By J.D. PROSE, BEAVER COUNTY TIMES – A bill that would make it a misdemeanor to benefit from lying about military service or receiving decorations or medals unanimously passed the state Senate on Tuesday and now heads to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk to be signed into law.
House Bill 168, introduced by state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, bans anyone from economically benefiting from lying about their service or decorations. Violators could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor. “Our men and women of the armed forces and their families deserve the utmost respect and praise, and criminals who disguise themselves as illegitimate veterans demean our true American heroes,” Saccone said. “Some people have actually tried to make money by falsely claiming veteran status,” said Saccone, an Air Force veteran and a 2018 U.S. Senate candidate. “They will now be brought to account.” Saccone said lying about military service or medals to make money “is truly an insult and discredit to the men and women who have selflessly sacrifices their lives on the battlefield.” Saccone introduced the same legislation in May 2016, calling it the Stolen Valor Act. It unanimously passed the state House in June 2016, but did not advance in the Senate. When the new legislative session started in January, Saccone reintroduced his bill and it passed the House 190-0 in April. In 2013, Congress passed the federal Stolen Valor Act, which addressed those who might lie about having military decorations and medals, such as the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart, in order to obtain benefits. Those convicted of violating the federal law can face fines and up to a year in jail.

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