ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minneapolis VA and Catholic Charities Twin Cities are teaming up to fight veteran homelessness. The partnership is providing on-site medical services for veterans experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness using a new "Mobile VA Medical Unit" (MMU).
Tuesday morning, community leaders gathered to celebrate. To start, the MMU will station outside the Dorothy Day campus in St. Paul once a week.
"This one stop option has the potential to drastically change veterans' expectations and close equity gaps where they may exist," Minneapolis VA Healthcare System Associate Director Kurt Theilen said.
The MMU is one of 25 deployed across the country by the VA. It's fully equipped with medical equipment and aimed to meet veterans where they are.
"We think of veterans of being honored and important members of our society. Often times the people see here at catholic charities are folks that have been disconnected from the services they need," Catholic Charities Twin Cities Chief Program Officer Keith Kozerski said. "So, it's important for us to help them reconnect so they get that dignity and honor they deserve for serving our country in such an important way."
According to CCTC, more than one in 10 people who stay at its St. Paul Dorothy Day campus are veterans. Community leaders say the new Mobile Medical Unit is a much needed service.
"It's not just a vehicle," St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said. "It's a shift in thinking. What if we can make it our responsibility to find you?"
The traveling clinic can provide veterans with health assessments, mental and preventative healthcare, VA resource referrals and more.
"When you are homeless and you're out there, the last thing you're thinking about is your health," Vietnam veteran Sidney Patterson said. "And really, it's a necessary thing."
Patterson knows what's it's like to be homeless first hand. He believes the Mobile Medical Unit will be life changing.
"Don't be afraid to ask for help," he said. "If you see this van, run to it. There's a plan. And it's not the end, it's the beginning."
The MMU will station outside the St. Paul Dorothy Day center every Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The hope is the MMU will be able to expand its presence across other Twin Cities locations.
for more features.