In January 2022, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported a total number of 33,129 veterans experiencing homelessness. In addition to the challenges of being homeless, homeless veterans struggle to receive healthcare that they may be entitled to through the VA. To reach out to these veterans, the VA launched mobile medical units across the country.
On August 3, 2023, the VA announced the deployment of 25 MMUs over the following six months. These units provide health care and support homeless and at-risk veterans. The first MMU arrived in Orlando, Florida, on August 3. Additional units will deploy to other major cities, including Atlanta, Oklahoma City and San Francisco from September 2023 to February 2024. The full deployment schedule can be found on the VA’s website.
Built on trucks or vans, MMUs provide a private space for veterans to meet with medical providers and receive care. This includes primary care, mental health, women’s health, audiology and laboratory services that might otherwise be unavailable to these veterans. The mobile nature of the MMUs allows them to travel to locations where they can best serve populations of homeless and at-risk veterans.
“Veterans experiencing homelessness face a variety of barriers to accessing health care, including a lack of transportation,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough in a press release. “With these new mobile medical units, homeless and at-risk veterans don’t have to visit VA hospitals - we come right to them.” The VA also deploys 83 Mobile Vet Centers across the country that provide a confidential space for counseling as well as outreach to veterans in communities that can’t reach existing services.
In addition to providing care for homeless and at-risk veterans, the VA is working to end veteran homelessness. In 2022, the number of homeless veterans was down 11% from 2020 and 55.3% from 2010. Also in 2022, the VA housed over 40,000 formerly homeless veterans and prevented more than 17,700 veterans and their families from becoming homeless. For 2023, the VA aims to house at least 38,000 veterans.
Feature Image: VA