BATH, N.Y. - The Veterans' Administration public relations person Brian Gardner said though the VA doesn't have an real localized data on the numbers of homeless veterans in Potter and Tioga counties, but he hopes to see national data regionalized by this spring.
He did know the numbers statewide, and they were up, he said.
"For 2011, there were 1,392 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania," Gardner said.
Darlene Prutsman, coordinator for health care for homeless veterans said the center, which serves five counties in New York state plus Tioga and Potter counties in Pennsylvania, saw about 200 homeless veterans or those at risk of homelessness, in 2011, "and the numbers are increasing."
Prutsman said both male and female veterans and those with families are affected by homelessness for a "variety of issues."
"Their ages range from 20s to 70s. Some are looking for jobs, some are waiting for disability checks or VA checks, and some have substance abuse issues," she said.
"The programs the VA offers can help with those issues. We help with locating apartments for them, help them get in and even advocate for them to get rent and furniture for those apartments," Prutsman said.
The VA Center held two open houses for homeless veterans on Valentine's Day in Westfield and Coudersport, at which homeless veterans facing severe hardship could attain services available to them, plus personal hygiene supplies, military surplus blankets, boots, coats, sleeping bags and other items.
For more information, call Prutsman at the Bath VA Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Office at 607-664-4319 Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
A 24/7 toll free hotline, 1-877-424-3838, is available for homeless veterans who are in desperate need of help.