Q&A with Geoffrey Milliard, DC Homeless Veteran Advocate

Posted: May 6, 2013 by thehomelesspage in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

By Lauren Hodges

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photo courtesy of Friendship Place DC

You voted on our Facebook survey for “homeless veterans” to be our next topic. Your wish is our command! And how appropriate, considering May is Military Appreciation Month.

Meet Geoff Milliard of Friendship Place DC. His career in homeless outreach was in the making before he was old enough to realize it. Growing up in a poverty-stricken area, he talks about his exposure to homelessness, drug addiction and struggling families as just part his every day childhood.

But his specialty in veteran issues comes from being a veteran himself. Having spent 9 years in the military, Milliard returned from Iraq in 2009 with a new perspective and joined Veterans Against the War. It was there he began his work with homeless veterans and eventually found his way to Friendship Place, where he is now director of special projects. Geoff sat down with The Homeless Page to discuss, veterans, why they struggle with homelessness, and the biggest obstacles they face in DC today.

THE HOMELESS PAGE: What do you do at Friendship Place?

GEOFF MILLIARD: I directed the Homeless Veterans Initiate for 3 years, so I still work with them a lot, even though my job title is a little more universal. The initiative addressed the issues specific to veterans, like having trouble adjusting after leaving the service, PTSD, injuries and medical treatment, benefits, things like that.

THP: Why are there so many homeless veterans?

GM: Like I said, veterans have some specific problems that make them unique. So many homeless veterans– actually, I would say most– have PTSD or some form of it from their time in the service. They also have actual physical injuries to deal with and might be struggling to get treatment and benefits to cover the costs.

THP: And what about the trouble adjusting?

GM: Yeah, it is an adjustment once you get back. They see things over there, they get used to routines. They really don’t teach much about re-acclimating to civilian life.

THP: Does that cause trouble with gaining employment?

GM: Yes, and sometimes keeping employment. It also makes things hard on their relationships. Some of these guys are divorced and have kids. So you can see how that made permanent housing a struggle for them.

THP: What do you think is the number one issue facing homeless veterans in DC right now?

GM: It’s actually the number one thing facing all homeless in DC–affordable housing. It’s really a crisis here. This is an expensive city and there is increasingly less space for low-income individuals and families. It’s very competitive and the spaces aren’t always inhabitable. It’s one of the reasons we hosted the Family Homelessness Symposium last month. (Read The Homeless Page’s coverage of the event here).

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