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Veterans Finding Community and a "Home" Within an Emergency Housing Environment.
Lynch KA, McCoy M, Gabrielian S. Veterans Finding Community and a "Home" Within an Emergency Housing Environment. Journal of primary care & community health. 2023 Jan 1; 14:21501319231180448.
In April 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating unsheltered homelessness in Los Angeles by sanctioning a tent turned tiny shelter encampment at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs medical center. Initially, staff offered linkages to on-campus VA healthcare. However, as many Veterans living in the encampment struggled to avail themselves of these services, our "encampment medicine" team was launched to provide on-site care coordination and healthcare at the tiny shelters. This case study showcases the team's engagement with a Veteran experiencing homelessness struggling with opioid use disorder and depicts how this co-located, comprehensive care team allowed for trusting care relationships formed with, and empowerment of the Veterans living in the encampment. The piece highlights a healthcare model that engages with persons experiencing homelessness on their own terms while building trust and solidarity, focuses on the sense of community that formed in the tiny shelter encampment, and gives recommendations for how homeless services might adapt to use the strengths of this unique community.