Advancing Our Support for Aging Veterans

October 27, 2023

Swords to Plowshares is among six experienced veteran housing providers in California participating in the Veterans Support to Self-Reliance (VSSR) Pilot program. This three-year pilot, designed by Swords, funded by Governor Newsom, and administered by CalVet, heightens supportive services for a particularly vulnerable segment of the veteran population – veteran seniors who live within permanent supportive housing (PSH) communities supported by VA’s subsidized housing program.

Under this program, Swords designs and provides targeted services that specifically address the needs of aging veterans who have previously struggled with maintaining their health and stable housing. The VSSR Pilot aims to:

  1. Demonstrate that enhanced and targeted supportive services enable senior veterans who have experienced chronic homelessness to age in place and maintain and/or improve quality of life
  2. Prevent the premature necessity for skilled nursing care; maintain personal and unit hygiene; address disruptive behavior; alleviate feelings of isolation; manage escalating mental health needs; reduce the risk of overdose; and prevent instances of premature death and suicide
  3. Improve health and wellness through geriatric social work services, individual and group 3 counseling, peer support and community engagement, and health care navigation

One resource that has already impacted the day-to-day routines of veterans enrolled in VSSR is our new transportation service. Swords has begun offering two distinct transportation options that facilitate veterans’ access to health care centers, grocery shopping, and Swords’ Veterans Community Center, among other locations. This resource gives veterans a reliable avenue for mobility, increasing their independence and wellbeing by removing the stress of navigating to necessary health appointments. Additionally, it connects aging veterans with their community. By hiring additional supportive staff, we can expand services to include transportation to community-building activities that reduce social isolation such as park outings, movie days, art classes, and ferry trips around the Bay. Swords strives to be a crucial part of a community-based support system for senior veterans.

Jasmine Dildy, Program Manager for Residential Services at Swords to Plowshares comments, “Having these extra and beefed-up services through VSSR has been like a breeze of fresh air. It's pretty awesome how it gives residents the chance to plug into all the cool stuff happening at the Veterans Community Center. And you know what's really heartening? Seeing those older veterans hit up the grocery store without having to worry about scrambling for transportation.”