The Department of Veteran Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System will award more than $1.4 million in grants to the U.S. Veterans Initiative in Honolulu starting in September to help fight homelessness among military veterans, according to a press release on Wednesday.

That follows more than $4.1 million the VA announced in July it had awarded to organizations working in the Aloha State and the U.S. territory of Guam.

More than half of that — $2.4 million — also went to the initiative, which is better known as U.S. VETS. Catholic Charities in Honolulu got $557,000 and WestCare in Guam got $697,000.

The latest grants were authorized under the VA’s Grant Per Diem program for community organizations that provide transitional housing and other services for homeless veterans. $765,120 of the latest grants will support programs for female veterans, those with chronic mental illness or who have children. Another $675,000 will support case management according to the press release.

“The grant and per diem program is integral to VA’s continuum of services and resources to help veterans exit homelessness,” Adam Robinson, director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, said in the press release.

“The newly awarded grants allow VA to continue to tailor transitional housing and case management services to the unique needs and circumstances of individual veterans facing housing crises, which helps put them on the pathway to permanent housing faster,” he added.

A portion of the grant funding was authorized through the CARES Act of 2020 and will be used for improvements to allow for more individualized transitional housing and to reduce the Covid-19 risks associated with often-crowded conditions in such housing.

The VA noted in its press release that the number of homeless veterans has declined by 50% since 2010, which it credited to the GPD program and other VA efforts.

However, post-9/11 veterans have faced unique challenges re-integrating into civilian life. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment among veterans of recent wars was on the rise and since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul last week, the VA’s Veteran Crisis Line has seen an 11% spike in calls.

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