Busting Silos: the Veterans Track

written by Ian Lisman
February 4, 2013

Let me start off by saying that this year’s Family and Youth conference will be the best one the Alliance has put together, ever. There are a variety of factors of why this is so: record attendance (The event is already sold out), world class speakers and presenters, and, from my perspective, the coolest thing of all: a track of workshops on veteran homelessness.

That’s right. You heard me! A veterans track at a family and youth conference? How odd, you might think. Aren’t veterans are their own category, their own silo? That’s the point. We’re busting these silos – both internally as an organization, and externally as a way of doing business. With this track we’re acknowledging the intersection of the various subpopulations that the homeless assistance field has identified. Every subpopulation includes an element of veteran homelessness. That goes for both families and youth.

Silo-busting makes sense for a variety of reasons. The demographics of veteran homelessness are changing. New veterans tend to be younger. More of them are female. And many are parents. Many are newly-separated veterans of our recent conflicts. These heroes face the same tough economy and poor employment prospects that their civilian counterparts face. Unlike their civilian counterparts, though, they bear the mental and physical wounds of war.

If you read this blog, you’ll know that we have been encouraging organizations who do not focus on veterans to apply for the Supportive Services of Veteran Families (SSVF) grant. This is part of the silo-busting I’m talking about. This is the first time the Department of Veterans affairs has included the families of veterans in its model to end veteran homelessness.

At our conference this month, we will feature plenty of SSVF content in several workshops, including an entire workshop devoted solely to SSVF. Other workshops in the Veterans Track will cover veteran employment, engaging newly discharged veterans, new research on veteran families and an overview of progress in the five year plan to end veteran homelessness.

Here are the numbers and titles of workshops. And you can read full descriptions here.

1.5 Coming Home: Progress and Outlook of the Five Year Plan to End Homelessness

2.6 Emerging Research on Veterans and their Families

3.7 Expanding Housing Opportunities for Veteran Families: Developing the SSVF Program Model 

4.7 Employment Strategies: Reducing Veteran Family Homelessness

6.4 Reaching, Engaging, and Serving Recently Discharged Veterans