The U.S. Department of Labor, on Feb. 22, announced $13 million in grants will be given to its Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program, which offers employment and housing services to thousands of veterans nationwide. The agency projects that this latest round of funding will help an estimated 6,000 veterans struggling with life after service.

"Finding gainful employment can change the life of a homeless veteran," Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in a news release. "The men and women who have served our country with distinction should not have to struggle to find and keep good jobs."

According to the Congressional Research Service, around 50,000 veterans are homeless in the U.S.

The war on veteran homelessness
In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs pledged to house all homeless veterans by 2015, reported NPR. In response, the Obama administration tripled federal funding for veteran housing programs. States quickly took advantage of the funding and instituted local initiatives. Ultimately, the VA missed its deadline. However, the agency's action did spur widespread change. 

So far two states – Connecticut and Virginia – have effectively ended veteran homelessness using federal funding, reported The Huffington Post. And, according to The New York Times, the national veteran homeless population has fallen by 80 percent since the VA announced its ambitious plan.

"We've been able to house more vets in the last five years than at any point in our history – 30-plus years," Vince Kane, assistant to the VA secretary, told NPR. "In the past, both inside and outside of VA, we were focused on models more about managing homeless than on ending homelessness."

Federal and state services have altered their protocols for getting former servicemembers off the streets. Case workers now work to house homeless veterans before addressing their medical or psychological problems. Before outreach agencies made these tactical changes, veterans looking for housing first had to go through treatment programs, which prevented many from seeking help.

Still work to do
Despite these major leaps, many stakeholders realize there is still work to do. States like California, Louisiana and New York are still working to house struggling veterans. Even cities that report zero homeless servicemembers still have many living beneath overpasses.

"Homelessness is a continuous process. There's a veteran right now who is in a home who could very well be homeless tomorrow," Melissa Haley, director of supportive services at the New Orleans-based organization Volunteers of America, said in an interview with NPR. "Functional zero is defined as having a process and the resources in place where we can immediately house a veteran."