VHA Homeless Program Office, Homeless Training Program 2018-01-25T14:38:00+00:00

Project Description

Melissa Bartnick, ERPi Senior Consultant

Melissa Bartnick

Senior Consultant

VHA Homeless Program Office, Homeless Training Program

Since 2016, ERPi has supported VHA’s Homeless Program Office on a national priority project to focus support on vulnerable homeless Veteran populations, requiring outreach to federal, state, and community providers. This includes Veterans in rural communities and chronically homeless Veterans. ERPi developed a strategic plan to generate awareness of VA staff proficiency in delivering services that will enhance the continuum of care provided to homeless Veterans to improve their housing stability, healthcare, and employment through VA’s homeless programs.

We provide project management support, onsite presentations and training, webinar development and facilitation, program analysis, market research, toolkit development, participant mentoring, post-training surveys and reports, and follow-up support to help VA reduce silos between its homeless services. Through our work with the Homeless Program Office and VA medical center staff, we are helping to create efficiencies and opportunities for collaboration across programs, enabling a seamless continuum of care and support services for the vulnerable homeless Veteran population.

As a trainer, I work with VA staff members to help make the hard work they do daily easier by training them on evidence-based practices. The training allows for an opportunity to brainstorm creative solutions to unique problems each medical center faces with homelessness. Not only do I get to work directly with staff and leadership at each medical center, I also get to work with the Veterans that utilize the homeless program services. This allows me to see the full spectrum of the homeless program, from consumer to leadership.

Why This Work Matters

VHA has named Veteran homelessness a national priority, because any man or woman that served this country at the very least deserves a house to come home to. As a social worker, I have had experience working with homeless and with Veterans, but this role has continued to grow my understanding of the complexities of not just the Veteran’s struggles, but also of homelessness. This role has allowed me to sit down and speak to a group of Veterans at every training I facilitate. During these sessions, Veterans have discussed their journey and how it takes just one staff member to really see them, encourage them, and give them the opportunity to live a better life. Being a trainer allows me to teach staff members new skills and empower them to continue to be inventive and innovative in their work because their work directly impacts Veterans’ lives every single day. An empowered staff leads to a strong program which will then reach out and give opportunities for a new beginning to Veterans.

Making a Difference

ERPi provides technical assistance and training services that drive the mission and goals of VHA Homeless Program Office’s programs, including housing, health care, and supportive housing. ERPi assessed the level of integration of evidence-based practice within the Veteran Homeless Program at 62 selected sites. Through the Homeless Training Program, ERPi has applied extensive experience with specialized homeless Veteran populations such as female Veterans, OEF/OIF/OND Veterans, elderly Veterans, Veterans in rural communities, and chronically homeless Veterans. Our team’s trainers have traveled to 62 sites across the country, conducted 75 trainings in over 10 evidence-based practices, and trained over 1800 VA medical center staff and community partners.