Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem: VA’s Schedule of Remaining 2015 Stand-Downs in Texas

homeless-1254833On June 1, 2015, Houston announced it has effectively ended chronic Veteran homelessness.  Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s dramatic statement came a mere year after Houston rolled up its collective sleeves and decided to face down two enemies most active-duty troops never anticipate: homelessness and its boon companion, hopelessness.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that, as of September 30, 2014 (a year ago), Texas as a whole had approximately 1.68 million Veterans. Houston is the 4th largest city in the United States.  It has an impressively large Veteran population – the 2nd largest in the United States – numbering around 300,000.   The office of Houston Mayor Annise Parker estimates an additional 3,000 Veterans return to Houston every year.  So, how did Houston deliver such a knock-down punch to the large and notoriously resilient foe of homelessness?  Essentially, Houston has succeeded through massive cooperative effort from everyone.  Houston’s coordination group is “The Way Home” and it involves local government, business, faith, non-profit, and charitable organizations.   Frankly, without the tireless work of volunteers, its unclear how quickly government alone – whether local, state, or Federal – can end Veteran homelessness.

Houston’s lesson for ending Veteran homelessness is this:  everyone has to help.  If you are unsure where to start in assisting homeless Veterans, consider volunteering with a local “Stand Down.”  The term “Stand Down” references the Vietnam War safe retreat area for units returning from combat operations.  Modern “Stand Downs” are typically one- to three-day events providing homeless Veterans with supplies and services such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings. and benefits counseling.  Many organizations in Texas and around the country coordinate Stand Downs.  This impressive work by numerous volunteers augments the $165B Department of Veterans Affairs budget in providing assistance for some of our most vulnerable, under-served Veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs sponsors Stand Downs throughout the country.  At the VA-sponsored Stand Downs, Veterans can receive referrals to other assistance such as health care, housing solutions, employment, substance use treatment and mental health counseling.  VA’s Stand Downs are also collaborative events, coordinated among charitable organizations, local VA Medical Centers, other government agencies, and community-based homeless service providers.

Below is a list of stand downs which VA has scheduled in Texas, for the remainder of 2015.   Interestingly, VA provides contact names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses.  As we’ve noted in a previous blog entry, it is usually quite difficult to obtain contact information for specific VA employees.  Apparently, when VA needs your help it’s a little easier to get contact data.  Therefore, you might want to keep this list handy in case you need to call or e-mail someone at VA.

DATE                 CITY              PRIMARY CONTACT            BACK-UP CONTACT

9/11/2015 El Paso  


Charm Mizer

(915) 487-8743




Michelle Knerl

(915) 494-1412


9/19/2015 Amarillo  


Juliana Walker

(806) 355-9703, x7522




Bobby Martinez

(806) 355-9703, x7755


9/25/2015 Beaumont  


Lewis Harris

(409) 347-9124




Barbara Lincoln

(409) 239-5722


10/2/2015 Houston  


David Sands

(713) 791-1414, x3672




Peter Morgan

(281) 808-1361


10/22/2015 Denton  


Linda Saucedo

(214) 927-4501




Kendre Flowers

(817) 255-7150


10/23/2015 Austin  


Michael Andrew Smith

(512) 565-1707




Paula Wood

(254) 624-7391


10/29/2015 Sherman  


Michele Lee

(214) 857-3066




Catriska Robertson

(214) 372-8819


11/6/2015 San Antonio  


Katie Herrera

(210) 616-9915, x64606




LaShelle Butler

(210) 616-9915, x6460


11/10/2015 –




Michele Lee

(214) 857-3066




Catriska Robertson

(214) 372-8819


11/13/2015 Longview  


Letetia Henderson

(318) 990-4422




Mike Smith

(318) 990-4401


11/18/2015 Fort Worth  


Linda Saucedo

(214) 927-4501




Kendre Flowers

(817) 255-7150


To volunteer for or participate in an upcoming stand down , contact the VA’s Point of Contact (POC) or back-up.  If you have any difficulty reaching a VA POC, let us know.

As Houston demonstrates, ending Veteran homelessness can be done.  It doesn’t take a miracle, but it does require a lot of individual miracle workers…like you.

If you have questions on VA benefits, please contact The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. at: https://www.attorneyforveterans.com/contact-us.html

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