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VA seeks to overhaul homelessness stance

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says its plan to fight homelessness among vets involves a complete overhaul of its traditional framework on the issue.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has indicated the agency is shifting to a focus on prevention and housing instead of on providing shelter services, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

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"This plan tries to do something different," Shinseki told the newspaper. "It aims as much if not more at preventing homelessness as it does rescuing those already on streets."

Shinseki reportedly said the VA's new five-year plan is calling for more collaboration and will strengthen relationships with private, state and local service providers with whom the VA "has not maintained close links. We must attack the entire downward spiral that ends in homelessness."

Stars and Stripes said the VA is looking to expand its housing options and medical care, especially its mental health services, as well as establishing a national referral center to direct veterans to local service providers.

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