The homeless veteran problem in the United States is becoming more and more prevalent due to an increasing national socioeconomic crisis, a continued draw-down in our nations uniformed services, the 'dumping" of psychiatric patients onto our nations streets as well as a host of other associated reasons.

The Veterans of the Vietnam War, in response to the homeless veterans problem, has embarked upon a comprehensive project designed to assist the homeless veteran. This project has been designated by the VVNW as the United Veterans Beacon House Project (UVBH). The United Veterans Beacon Houses are designed to offer a safe drug-alcohol free haven, direct the veteran to a multitude of support agencies offering assistance, and provide the veteran with decent shelter while the veteran rebuilds a life.

The concept of the UVBH is to provide "3/4" housing for the veteran to allow the veteran to restructure and rebuild his life (note: for the sake of clarity and readability, when referring to a veteran, the pronoun "his" is used. However, in actuality, UVBHs are non-sexist and veterans of either gender are accommodated). The veteran is allowed to stay in a UVBH for a period of six months to two years. Studies have shown that with this length of stay, the veteran has the ability to begin a new working career, change jobs as upward mobility dictates and amass the financial resources to become self-sufficient.

During the veteran's stay at a UVBH, a full range of services are provided including drug and alcohol counseling, PTSD counseling, other psychological and family counseling, life skills training, full employment counseling and a wide range of medical services.

Each UVBH networks with existing community services and the Department of Veterans Affairs resources to insure against a duplication of services.

Currently, the VVNW has a United Veterans Beacon House in Akron, Pennsylvania.


Each UVBH will provide the veteran, free of charge - safe, drug/alcohol free housing for a period of not less than six months nor more than two years.

The veteran must take an active part in his/her rehabilitation by participating in appropriate social services including appropriate psychological counseling, employment counseling, family counseling, drug and alcohol counseling and any other counseling assigned by his/her counselor.

The veteran will participate in the upkeep and maintenance of the physical building as well as the continued care of his/her personal property and area.

Each United Veterans Beacon House will meet certain minimum requirements before receiving full or partial funding from the VVNW. These requirements are divided into two categories: 1. the physical building and, 2. the social work plan.

The Physical Building:

Each United Veterans Beacon House will be either an existing structure modified as a shelter or new construction specifically designed as a shelter. In either case, the minimal criteria to secure VVNW funding is the same:

1. A minimum of eight (8) beds - no more than two (2) beds per room or a dormitory style room containing no more than four (4) beds or a combination of double rooms and dormitory rooms.

2. A minimum of one apartment consisting of two (2) bedrooms and a bath for one family.

3. A minimum of 2 and 1/2 baths for those not sheltered in the apartment.

4. A minimum of one room set aside for group counseling.

5. A minimum of one room set aside for individual counseling.

6. A common kitchen to prepare group meals.

7. A common dining room.

8. A group room other than the counseling room for living space, TV, etc.

9. A room designated as office space for administration of the program.

10. Adequate parking for administrative personnel and service providers.

11. All local building codes and all zoning ordinances must be observed.

12. Appropriate furnishings or access to the same must be provided and include all cooking utensils, refrigerators, etc.

The Social Work Plan:

To secure funding from the VVNW, the United Veterans Beacon House must provide the following services:

1. Counseling services must be contracted for from the local DVA or a private provider for in-house counseling to:

a. Provide drug and alcohol counseling by a designated DVA provider or a private Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC).

b. Provide PTSD counseling by a designated DVA provider or a private therapist - preferably a Certified Trauma Counselor (CTC).

c. Provide Family Counseling by a designated DVA provider or a private counselor (or have the access to such service when the family apartment is being utilized).

d. Provide psychological counseling for non-service related problems by a designated DVA provider or a private counselor.

e. Provide employment counseling from DVA sources or the local Job Service Office.

2. Medical services must be contracted for from the local DVA or a private provider to assure adequate medical treatment for all veterans and their families.

3. Living skills education must be provided either by a local VVNW post or by a local contractor.

The Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. is committed to continuing and expanding our United Veterans Beacon House Project. We intend to pursue this expansion through corporate contributions, government grants and programs and through our own fund raising efforts. To date, UVBH has received no direct government funding. We hope to change this in the future.

Our final goal is to have UVBH's across the country. We know that we alone cannot eradicate homelessness among the veteran population. However, we will make a difference.

UVBH (Pennsylvania)
P.O. Box 8194
Lancaster, PA 17604
Business phone: 717-859-4577
Fax: 717-859-2205


Date of last revision:12/20/96