The VA in Martinsburg, W.Va., is helping homeless veterans escape the bitter cold by providing them with shelter through the Operation Veteran's Respite program. According to The Herald-Mail, eight West Virginia veterans took advantage of the program last week, when temperatures dropped below freezing throughout much of the U.S.
The veterans were given a bed, food and warm showers at the 465-bed Martinsburg VA Medical Center, VA spokesman Michael McAleer told the news source. He added that seven of the eight former servicemembers signed up for the VA's six-month-long counseling and rehabilitation program, which helps place veterans in permanent housing.
According to a recent report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, West Virginia had more than 300 veterans living without permanent shelter in 2013. Overall, about 2,200 people are homeless in the state. The West Virginia VA hosts six shelters for homeless veterans, as well as a transitional housing program. The state's VA has also implemented several other programs to aid the homeless veterans population, including emergency food assistance, a reintegration into life after service program and a comprehensive resources website that lists hotlines and soup kitchens, according to the West Virginia VA website.