Virginia named only state to "functionally end" veteran homelessness

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As the nation honors our veterans, the Commonwealth is celebrating a milestone for helping those who have served.

On Wednesday, Governor McAuliffe announced during a ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial, that Virginia has been certified the first state in the nation to "functionally end" veteran homelessness, meaning homeless veterans have been identified, offered services and a system is in place to help them if and when they need it.

Like a lot of veterans, "Jane," an Air Force veteran, lost her home to foreclosure last year and didn't have anywhere to go. After staying with family for several weeks, she lived in a storage unit, and when her luck ran out there, she found herself in a shelter.

"It was an experience you know, but I got help," "Jane" said.

Last year, the Commonwealth made a commitment to helping vets just like "Jane."

"We talk about building the entire package for folks, so that we get you off the street. We need to make sure that we can get you into housing, we gotta make sure we have the healthcare resources for ya," McAuliffe said.

While the General Assembly allocated $500,000 to the effort, a lot of the work came from people in existing agencies. Once a week, groups like Homeward, an agency to end homelessness, meet to make sure veterans don't fall through the cracks. "We don't wait for veterans to come in seeking services. We go out to them," Homeward's Executive Director Kelly King Horne explained.

For veterans like Dominic Corleone, who served in the Gulf War, the announcement was good start. He, too, was almost homeless after serving our country and has advice for veterans who find themselves in a similar situation.

"The biggest part of it... don't give up. You either go hard or go harder," Corleone said.

House Majority Leader Kirk Cox said the House has consistently prioritized efforts to end veteran homelessness and said it is working with the governor to continue the efforts.

Dial 211 if anyone is looking for any information on the programs.

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.