Letter writer: What is the city doing to end veterans’ homelessness?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Some time ago, an announcement was made public that Asheville’s mayor had accepted [first lady] Michelle Obama’s challenge to end veterans’ homelessness. Since then, I have not seen or heard anything about the actual plans to do this, although I did hear that there was a lot of money that the city of Asheville may have applied for or had gotten to make this a reality.

Would Mountain Xpress ask the mayor about all this and write a story to clarify what is really going on? Many veterans here, including myself, would be really interested in knowing what actually is being done to implement the acceptance of Michelle Obama’s challenge other than accepting it.

— John Penley
U.S. Navy 1972-76

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Mayor Esther Manheimer; her response can be found in the letter, “City of Asheville Works with Partners to House Veterans” in this issue.


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20 thoughts on “Letter writer: What is the city doing to end veterans’ homelessness?

  1. Jim

    It’s not the city’s job. The enormous amount of fraud and abuse at the VA needs to be addressed. It’s the only legal pill dealer in the nation that dispenses narcotics in paper bags. By the hundreds. On top of the cronies within it who receive bonuses for poor job performances.

  2. John Penley

    Jim you are full of crap. The city accepted the challenge by Michelle Obama so they should do what they said they were going to do. Personally I do not think you are a Veteran since you did not say you were. The VA now makes it very hard to get painkillers. The Asheville VA is one of the best in the country. There is more I would like to say to you but if I did Mountain XPress would remove this comment.

  3. Austin

    Well, we could always *try* anarchy, I guess… But when I look at Somalia it doesn’t look like much fun.

    What do you suggest instead?

    • Jim

      We already have anarchy. People are ignorant.

      How dare council propose higher property taxes , AND BLAME RALEIGH all for POLITICS, while just a few days ago an article comes out that states over 6 BILLION in land here is untaxed? How do these PROGRESSIVE loons give free passes to this garbage in council and yet call for the 1 percenters to pay their fair share? Don’t know about you, but 6 billion is nothing to scoff at. Why am I having to shell 1/4 of my take home pay in property taxes while the rich expect me to pay to remove graffiti off their buildings? Or subsidize some festival so a bunch of spoiled hipster brats can get drunk? Or house the homeless vets while we have an open border and a ton of freebies to the illegals INCLUDING HOUSING? All the while the scum who run the VA are making huge amounts of money? Long past time to take a lot of these people in office and government and kick them to the curb.

      • Jim

        You want vets housed? Then make a choice between them or an illegal. Cause you can’t do both. Either you continue to sell out the nation to everything that burdens the people born here or you start to make US CITIZENS AND VERTERANS a priority. Which do the politicians do? I can tell you that Bothwell wants this to be a sanctuary city. Well if we give illegals sanctuary, benefits, and jobs guess what morons, that means somebody else loses. It’s vets for now but next it’ll be homeowners that get kicked out of their homes because they can’t pay the taxes. Shame on a country that prioritizes cheap labor, SLAVES in all reality, over its own people.

        • Big Al

          When you find a natural-born white or black American who is willing to do the jobs illegals do for what they are paid to do them, let me know. America’s native-born homeless, including many of our vets, are too proud to harvest crops, clean bathrooms, or wash dishes for less than what they believe they deserve. Especially when they can feed at the trough of the welfare state AND prey on the wealthy street traffic of Asheville tourism.

          Illegals are here because we WANT them here to do shit jobs for shit wages, we just won’t admit it. Stop wrapping your hypocritical ass in the American flag.

          • Able Allen

            Al, you are making some points that are reasonably important to the debate, but please refrain from targeting people with ad hominem attacks.

  4. John Penley

    On a releated issue..recently there has been a push by Republican politicians for big cuts to the VA health care system and some have even floated the idea of completely ending Veterans Health Care benefits. People , especially Veterans, should be paying close attention to this. The Republican Party and their Tea Party people always claim they are the most Patriotic and Support the troops more than the Democratic Party,, Don’t believe it.

  5. John Penley

    Jim please post your full name. If you are really a Vet thank you for serving but if you are a Vet you must have received a letter form the VA as I, my dad and other Veterans I know did informing us of changes in VA policy on Painkillers. I actually got Emily Wax who is the Veterans Reporter for The Washibgton Post to do a story about this. This is part of national policy coming from the DEA regarding painkillers and not only affects Vets but civilians as well. Your info is out of date or you may be influenced by Republicans who want to make large cuts to VA health care.

    • Jason

      The proposed cut would suffice and be better for taxpayers AND vets alike if vets didn’t have to go to a VA hospital and simply go to an outside provider paid for by the VA. VA hospitals are huge examples of government waste and abuse. Go to the VA hospital and literally 80% of the staff are talking on their cell phone and working and working at the slowest pace possible, but overpaid to look real busy or act real busy . Compare the productivity of a VA and privately run clinic/ hospital … At a privately run clinic you get service . In a VA Hospital you’re treated by people who literally cannot get fired and will always get a raise year after year after year with no incentive to do anything for you. I dread going to a va hospital; most people do!

    • Jason

      The Government Accountability Office placed the Veterans Affairs Department’s healthcare system on a list of high-risk programs for 2015, saying at an April 29 Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing that the agency needs to address inadequate oversight and ambiguous policies.

      “Risks to the timeliness, costeffectiveness, quality and safety of veterans’ healthcare, along with other persistent weaknesses GAO and others have identified in recent years, raised serious concerns about VA’s management and oversight of its healthcare system,” said GAO Healthcare Director Debra Draper at the hearing.

      GAO prepared testimony (pdf) says VA operates one of the largest healthcare delivery systems in the nation, including 150 medical centers and more than 800 community-based outpatient clinics.

      Enrollment in the VA healthcare system has grown significantly, increasing from 6.8 to 8.9 million veterans between fiscal years 2002 and 2013, GAO says.

      Over this same period, Congress has provided steady increases in VA’s healthcare budget, increasing from $23.0 billion to $55.5 billion.

      At the hearing Draper outlined five major areas that put the VA at risk of failing to provide adequate healthcare to veterans including ambiguous policies and inconsistent processes, inadequate oversight and accountability, information technology challenges, inadequate training for VA staff and unclear resource needs and allocation priorities.

      John Daigh, the VA’s assistant inspector general, agreed with Draper’s assessment of the Veterans Health Administration.

      “VHA is at risk of not performing its mission as the result of several intersecting factors,” Deigh said. “VHA has several missions, and too often management decisions compromise the most important mission of providing veterans with quality healthcare.”

      Daigh focused on the Veterans Integrated Service Networks – regional offices that are set up to oversees VA medical centers in certain areas – saying the current VISN structure has not worked effectively to support and solve problems facing hospitals.

      One role of the VISNs is to make sure medical providers at each facility are doing their job properly with periodic reviews.

      Daigh said in prepared testimony (pdf) that a forthcoming VA OIG report found that in hospitals where there are specialty units with small numbers of providers, it is difficult to obtain unbiased peer reviews of clinical cases and assessments of clinical performance by peers.

      That lack of data makes it difficult for VISN’ to accurately assess medical care providers. But medical centers shouldn’t be shouldering all of the blame, Daigh said.

      “The VISN structure has been inconsistently effective in addressing this issue,” he said.

      Government Accountability Office (GOA) Declares VA Healthcare ‘High-Risk’

      Each VISN has a different internal organization and each medical facility has a different internal structure.

      “This lack of standardization makes the dissemination of information and policy to facilities challenging and the acquisition of critical data from facilities more difficult,” Daigh said.


  6. Big Al

    Part of the reason for lack of funding is that the size of the Veterans Administration budget is NOT tied to the number of VETERANS but to the size of the US Military. The number of veterans has risen with every war since 1941, but the size of the active & reserve force has shrunk over 2 million since WW2, with 600,000 of those since the Cold War ended in 1989. Also, VA Medical Centers are located in large cities and near military bases, while veterans are spread throughout distant suburban and rural areas. We need to devolve veterans’ medical services away from VAMCs and outsource them to non-VA facilities, then close those VAMCs that do not have enough local vets to justify their existence. Unfortunately, every time a solution like this is proposed, the AmVet/American Legion/VFW beer hall crowds rise up in arms.

    And before the beer hall warriors call me long-hair or hippie, I am a 9-year veteran of the Army & Reserves who does not buy into the glorification of the VA system. I work in health care and have done clinicals at VAMCs and really don’t see what is so special about them.

  7. jonathan wainscott

    I am currently housing two homeless veterans through the Homeward Bound program. They tried to get housing at the Veterans Helping Veteran farm recently covered by this paper. That “organization” run by Timothy Sadler and Matt Sheply kicked out an 82 year old veteran, they (Timmy and Lil Matt) eat their own donations of food from whole foods and let much of it go to rot. I know. I have been out to “The Farm”. I have no problem with the amount of marijuana smoked on the farm though. They smoke some seriously kind bud. Really.


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