Veteran Benefits in California
California has long lead the nation in the largest number of veterans living within its borders, with more than 1.8 million former servicemen and women calling it home. A veteran’s honorable service has earned a long list of California veterans benefits and services, but finding and accessing these can at times be challenging. Happily, California’s major cities have multiple organizations in place to assist and support its veterans.
Along with having the largest number of veterans of any state, one of its best known cities – Los Angeles – also has the highest number of homeless veterans, with an estimated more than 400,000 living on the streets. The Los Angeles Housing Resource Center has an entire section of its website dedicated to helping veterans and their families find affordable housing. Another leading organization, New Direction for Veterans, has helped thousands of veterans since its founding in 1992 by two formerly homeless veterans. Today, in addition to running numerous transitional and permanent housing programs, the organization offers substance abuse treatment, counseling, remedial education, job training and placement, and parenting and money management classes, and tax and legal assistance. New Direction for Veterans is headquartered at 11303 Wilshite Blvd., VA Building 116.
For veterans in LA needing health care services, the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System offers two locations, the West Los Angeles Medical Center and the Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center. Their spectrum of care includes an award-winning Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), women’s health programs, home-based care, hospice services, and programs that assist veteran family caregivers. The social work department at the West Los Angeles Medical Center offers addiction and mental health treatment and support, as well as geriatric-specific psychiatric services.
South of Los Angeles in Newport Beach, CA United Mission for Nonprofits of America has ten beds available at their veteran assisted living home and provide counseling and vocational rehab services. They provide an environment that helps veterans get acclimated back into society.
Visit the LA veteran resource page for additional local services and benefits.
The capital city offers numerous support systems for area veterans, including a local chapter of the Veterans Resource Centers of America, an award-winning community-based organization with a 40-year history of serving veterans. Veterans can visit the center to access services such as behavioral health treatment, housing help and homeless prevention, employment and training, permanent supportive housing, nutrition services, and case management.
The VA Northern California Health Care System has a location in Sacramento, located at 10535 Hospital Way. VANCHCS is an integrated health care delivery system, offering a comprehensive array of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and extended care to veterans in Northern California. Among their care options, veterans visiting this facility have access to emergency care, primary care, mental health and substance abuse programs and services, palliative care, caregiver support, hospice care, and and in-home care options.
Visit the Sacramento veteran resource page for additional local services and benefits.
Known for its warm climate and welcoming beaches, the continuing issue of veteran homelessness prompted the city of San Diego to recently undertake a concerted effort to end veteran homelessness soon. Other organizations have been working on this effort as well, such as The Village Veterans of San Diego, a community non-profit that supports vets who have mental health or substance abuse issues through a five-prong approach that includes prevention, intervention, rehabilitation, aftercare, and employment services.
The VA San Diego Healthcare System provides a wide range of health care services, including primary care, geriatric care, women’s health, in-home care, hospice care, and additional specialized care services. The hospital also features a robust social work and mental health department that helps veterans suffering from PTSD, addiction, or substance abuse. The 40-bed Aspire Center offers treatment and temporary housing for veterans needing rehabilitation.
Visit the San Diego veteran resource page for additional local services and benefits.
One of the state’s most iconic cities is home for many veterans. The organization, Swords to Plowshares, has operated successful transitional, stabilization, and permanent supporting housing programs for more than two decades. With seven different housing sites, it has the capacity to house up to 446 veterans, including 12 veterans with families, from all walks of life and generations of military service. It also offers additional programs including employment training, legal services, women’s services, and income support.
The San Francisco VA Health Care System is located at 4150 Clement Street and offers eye care, dental, and lab services, along with specialized geriatrics and palliative care units for elderly patients. Adult day programs, respite care, and home health options are available for friends and family members who act as caregiver to a veteran. The SFVAMC is home to several National Centers of Excellence, including one for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment.
Visit the San Francisco veteran resource page for additional local services and benefits.
San Jose ranks number 6 among the top most expensive cities to live in (along with San Francisco, who ranks number 4 on the list). This can lead to challenges for veterans living on limited incomes or struggling with disability and injuries., including homelessness. It’s estimated that there are around 700 homeless veterans in the Sana Clara County, but in 2015 the local government entities launched “All the Way Home” campaign to work on reducing those numbers. Additionally, the non-profit organization Veterans Housing Facility, located at 10 Kirk Ave. in San Jose, combines emergency/treatment beds, transitional housing, and supportive services (such as case management, vocational rehabilitation, mental health and addiction treatment services, and housing assistance) to serve homeless veterans throughout the Silicon Valley.
The VA also maintains the San Jose Vet Center at 440 North 1st Street, Suite 120, open mornings during the week, and almost all day during the weekends. Vet Centers across the country provide a range of counseling, outreach, and referral services to combat veterans and their families. Vet Centers guide veterans and their families through many of the major adjustments in lifestyle that often occur after a Veteran returns from combat. Free and confidential services for a veteran may include individual and group counseling in areas such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), alcohol and drug assessment, and suicide prevention referrals.
If you are seeking housing options for a senior veteran, you can browse by type of housing or other services here.
To find out what veterans benefits exist in other states in the U.S. please visit our complete Veterans Benefits by State guide here.
California Veterans Benefit for Assisted Living
The Aid and Attendance pension benefit is available to California senior veterans and their spouses to help pay for senior care like assisted living, home care, or nursing home care. Here is more information on how the Aid and Attendance benefit helps California veterans.
Written by Megan Hammons