Wisconsin News

Decision forces dozens of homeless veterans to vacate Tomah VA

Organization must vacate Tomah VA by Jan. 16

Decision forces dozens of homeless veterans to vacate Tomah VA

TOMAH, Wis. (WKBT) - The Veterans Assistance Foundation is a nonprofit organization designed to help homeless veterans receive support they need.

One of their locations is inside the Tomah VA Medical Center.

Around 55 homeless veterans use space at the Tomah VA for temporary housing, as well as attend classes designed to help get veterans in permanent homes.

But now, those veterans will be forced to vacate the facility by mid January.

Susan Emery has been living inside the Tomah VA for two months. Like many other veterans, she's been very happy with the treatment she's received inside the walls of the facility.

"Some of us come here with very few things -- clothing was given to me. I'm an insulin dependent diabetic. The food is monitored for me," Emery said.

But after the Veterans Assistance Foundation received a letter from the VA last week, saying the organization must leave the facility by Jan. 16, she's been left with very few options.

"I already have an application to an apartment, that they've helped me get - a senior apartment in Mauston. But the waiting list is 4-6 months and I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm very scared," Emery said. "If I have to leave in January, what will I do the rest of the time?

Like other veterans outside the Tomah VA facility Tuesday, she wants answers.

"And no one has given them," Emery said.

A spokesperson from the Tomah VA says the department fully support the mission of the VAF, but the decision is based on the safety of all patients at the VA.

"The things that we've seen, experienced, and tried to get remediated -- those things didn't happen," public affairs officer Matthew Gowan said. "So we get to a point where, in order to successfully and safety treat veterans, this needs to be done off campus, rather than on."

The care Emery has received from both organizations is why she's hoping a solution will come soon.

"It's so important that the VAF be permitted to continue to find housing," Emery said. "Whether it's here, or somewhere else."

Staff from the VA met with veterans displaced by the move Tuesday evening, hoping to provide answers and support for the transition.

The VA says those veterans displaced that are eligible to receive medical care at the facility will still be able to do so going forward.


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