RICHMOND, Va. — While every Veterans Day at the Virginia War Memorial is special, few contain “special announcements,” but that was not the case Wednesday.
“This is a statement I wanted to make for a long time,” Governor Terry McAulliffe said.
“Virginia is the first state in the United States of America to functionally end homelessness in their state,” McAuliffe said speaking on the issue of veterans homelessness.
The news was met with applause by those gathered as well as a special “congratulations” by President Obama’s HUD Secretary Julian Castro.
Castro told WTVR CBS 6 what makes Virginia different from other states in reaching the goal first is the cooperation between state and local governments.
For veterans like James Samuels, who was listening to the governor’s words closely, the part in which the governor emphasized “functionally end homelessness” was important.
Samuels said there are still homeless veterans on the street. That is something state officials agree with, however those veterans are confused and often deny housing.
“They don’t want help,” Samuels explained.
Statewide, 1400 veterans have been housed within the last year and over 320 of them have been from the Richmond area, according to state officials.
Kelly King Horn with Homeward VA is one of the people responsible for getting veterans housing in Richmond.
“We went out to find them,” Horn said.
The challenge now may be keeping Virginia’s new-found status up. According to McAuliffe, Virginia is the fastest growing state for new veterans.
To help address the problem, McAuliffe has set up a new initiative to hire 20,000 veterans by the end of his term.
“I’m pretty confident we are going to hit that 20,000,” McAuliffe said. “I have not met a goal I started with veterans yet and I’m not starting now.”