Army National Guard Veteran Joseph Harrison got a new start on life thanks to the HUD-VASH program. After leaving service, Harrison faced challenges to getting back on track, including brushes with the law, substance abuse, and difficulty maintaining relationships.

HUD-VASH is the Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supported Housing—a joint program between HUD and VA that assists Veterans and their families.

Of the 26 Tribal HUD-VASH programs nationwide, the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, assists Veterans living in the rural areas of North Central and Eastern Washington, the Panhandle of Northern Idaho and Northwestern Montana – a 64,000 square mile catchment area. MGVAMC assists Veterans qualifying for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation’s Tribal HUD-VASH program as well as assisting Veterans utilizing tribal HUD-VASH programs for the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene (Idaho), and Nez Perce (Idaho) reservations, respectively.

Looking forward

With help from HUD and VA, Harrison learned to look forward rather than focusing on what’s in the rearview mirror. He now receives mental health care and support from the Spokane VA. He credits his Tribal HUD-VASH case manager, Heidi Stewart, with getting him back on track.

“Thanks to Heidi and VA, my life and outlook are way better now,” he said. “I have so much more in front of me now, including an amazing girlfriend, a beautiful 18-month old son, and another baby on the way.”

Stewart and her colleagues help Native American Veterans like Harrison secure gainful employment, housing, and VA health care. Harrison has even gone back to school and is now studying information technology at Spokane Community College.

Navy Veteran Melissa Richardson described moving to Spokane in the winter and living out of her vehicle—until she met Stewart.

“I never planned to get married and then became homeless with a child,” she said. “If it weren’t for Heidi and HUD-VASH, we would have been forced to live in a storage unit. Heidi found us an apartment. She gave us hope.”

Navy Veteran “Pistol Pete” of the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, described HUD-VASH and Heidi Stewart as blessings.

“Without Heidi, I wouldn’t be here today.”

What tomorrow may bring

HUD’s Office of Native American Programs representative Greg Roe said he’s impressed.

“This is a personally inspiring event—reminding us why we do the work that we do to help Veterans get back on their feet and feel good about themselves and about whatever tomorrow may bring.”

HUD-VASH is one program that provides Veterans with a Continuum of Care. It supports three types of housing: emergency, contract transitional, and permanent. Housing support is part of VA’s Behavioral Health Service. BHS provides Veterans with mental health assistance, substance abuse prevention services and employment support. It works with VA community partners to end Veteran homelessness.

“We are happy to have housing vouchers available for eligible Veterans,” said Dr. Quinn Bastian, chief of BHS. “And we’re honored to serve those with wounds that may not be visible but who are willing to step forward and allow VA to help them.”

For Joseph Harrison and others enrolled in HUD-VASH, letting VA help is not a problem at all. He said he’s looking well into the future with hopes of becoming a cyber operations technician.

“I don’t have a huge support network around me,” Harrison said. “What I do have is a positive outlook, the love of a woman and our child, and I have Heidi to thank for reminding me of the traits so many Vets must carry with us going forward in life: integrity, loyalty, honor, and respect.”

Bret Bowers is a USAF Veteran and public affairs officer at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center.

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Published on Oct. 2, 2019

Estimated reading time is 3.1 min.

Views to date: 203


  1. Nhà Tiền Chế October 23, 2019 at 2:59 am

    This work is really meaningful to me. Hope you guys will be home soon.

  2. kết cấu thép là gì October 17, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    I really like this job of HUD-VASH. Hope for the veterans to get home soon

  3. Stuart Birckhead October 11, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I’m in Palm Bay Fl. I’m a disabled veteran. The VA just turned a simple rotaor cuff surgery in to a 17 month journey , two surgeries later I can’t use my left arm. I can not afford my rent I get $12 in food stamps. I can’t survive out her. I have a service dog also. I’m getting ready to leave if I I get no help. My teeth are rotting out my mouth. I be had 2 back surgeries 2 shoulder surgeries. I don’t I’m gonna do well in the street.
    I ask for something anything

  4. Mickey Melissa Schaub October 8, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    I’m in need of this. All of it. We need a new place to live. There are 3 of us and we have 3 cat’s. I’m a US Navy veteran. I need dental. I’m using mental health. The cat’s need shots and food and exams. We are trying to get propane through the vet center here in Traverse City, MI. I need help with rides to and from appointments. Sincerely, Mrs. Mickey Schaub.

  5. taurino medina October 7, 2019 at 5:32 am

    i am a usmc veteran. ive been without a house for years. i reacently got married this year, but mainly to have a place to stay. i get kicked out all the time and i have no family support at all. all family has turned ther back at me. i live in harlingen, Tx… can you please help me?

    • Tyrome Smith October 17, 2019 at 4:59 am

      I had dependency issues in the past so I had similar problems with getting kicked out so I told myself no more. I went to the VA got help with my addiction participated in a program for homeless vets and at that time the HUD VASH program was on hold they had already given out their quota by the grace of GOD the facility I was at was downsizing we found out on a Friday and First thing Monday morning the VA was there with several solutions for us in recovery and one of the options was the HUD voucher I took them up on it and 5 years later I am still a participant and I have a lovely 3 bedroom house for my family I have a place for my sons when they come to town to visit

  6. Gary Craig Sobie October 3, 2019 at 3:40 am

    I am living in a motel in Bolivar, TN. I lost my wife in 2018 & lost my house that same year. I was told about a HUD program, that could possibly help me. But I don’t know if it’s this one. I am thinking I might stay. But I might try to move back to Iowa. Where I am originally from. And see if I could get a nice 1 bedroom house in Moline, IL.

    • Bernard R WILSON , Jr October 3, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Yes that’s the right program that you was told to look in please go look into this. It’s a wonderful program as long as you have some type of income , obviously you do because your living in a hotel. It will allow you a more stable life a better way of living and an opportunity to save for the future. BTW , about your losses just continue to and keep”GOD” first in your life be blessed. I’m speaking from experience not what somebody told me.

  7. Jeff roye October 3, 2019 at 3:09 am

    i have used hyd vash and my social worker is there for me noww with that said said the lical cboc is different story and the Spokane hispital controls evey thing i do withmy health and welfare because i live only four miles from the clinic i fall in a void as to where i can go for for health care ok great help with my housing but its an absolute lie about health care I’m a victim of several strokes and to top that off I’m dealing with macular degeneration so my ability to just get to an appointment to visit my ptsd counselor i walk with questionable vision a bus or bus or uber it all cost me noneydo not have my hud vash social worker helps with this i cant just uber or bum a ride to Spokane just short of 200 miles away or nearly the same distance to Seattle oh yeah i have weather to deal with don’t get me wrong without the VA i woyld have nothing for help with my housing and so called health care with far too many obstacles let us have choice in the community without impossible rules im only 62 so im not eligible for medicare although I’m on ssdi im broke because i only get ssa pay i mnot able to work because i am disabled i have been homless before by in making bad decisions vash kept from being there again so withmyheart i wantthank my social worker lei she jept mt ass from having to live in my car again my last comment us ti the administration od the VA T talk the vers not the freeloader doctors tha nks fix the problems abd qyit charging co pays on prescriptions i can’t get mt bills oaid when i have to pay the VA and treasury dept who mow are garnishing my meager social security payments so i have issues with VA itcan only get better and im hopeful it will

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