A state-wide community mental health center is offering housing assistance and referrals for mental health and addiction recovery services in Camden County to veterans.

A state-wide community mental health center is offering housing assistance and referrals for mental health and addiction recovery services in Camden County to veterans. Pathways Community Health has received funding through the Supported Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to provide these services.

"Pathways Community Health is a not-for-profit community mental health center. We provide a full continuum of services including mental health, alcohol and drug treatment and prevention services in locations across the state of Missouri. Our services are based on each individuals’ need and utilize the most cost-effective and affordable methods of care," Shawn Schmidli with Pathways said.

Pathways’ SSVF program will assist veterans in finding and maintaining housing, benefits, and other supportive services including mental health and substance abuse treatment services. Funding for this program is through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in an effort to help the large amount of homeless veterans across America.

Veteran homelessness has become an epidemic in the United States.  According to the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans, 13 percent of homeless adults are veterans, 50 percent of homeless veterans have a serious mental illness, and 70 percent have substance abuse problems.

There are many reasons veterans become homeless, including poverty, lack of support from family or friends, substance use, or mental health challenges that may develop or worsen as a result of trauma they experienced while serving in the armed forces.

“This is a great addition to the Pathways continuum of care,” said Jeff Bozarth, SSVF program manager for Pathways, “Many of the communities we serve have homeless veterans that we can help live a better life.”

The program is currently in its early stages but hopes to end veteran homelessness by 2015.

"We are still in the early stages of the program, however we have screened a few people from the Camden County area and regardless of eligibility, all those screened are assisted with some sort of referral to agencies that can assist in improving their overall quality of life. We have just begun the outreach part of the program as we were spending the first couple of months making sure we had everything in place to make the process go smoothly for eligible veterans," Schmidli added.

 For more information or a pre-screening assessment, call 1-888-403-1071. For more information about Pathways and its services, visit them online at www.pathwaysonline.org.