Saturday, May 29, 2004

God Bless Vets! Now get off my sidewalk, you bum 

(via LA Times)

After the homecomings are over and the yellow ribbons packed away, many who once served in America's armed forces may end up sleeping on sidewalks.

This is the often-unacknowledged postscript to military service. According to the federal government,
veterans make up 9% of the U.S. population but 23% of the homeless population.">
Their ranks included veterans like Vannessa Turner of Boston, who returned injured from Iraq last summer, unable to find healthcare or a place to live.

Or Ken Saks, who lost his feet because of complications caused by Agent Orange, then lost his low-rent Santa Barbara apartment in an ordeal that began when a neighbor complained about his wheelchair ramp.

"I'm 56 years old," Saks said. "I don't want to die in the streets…. This is what our [soldiers in Iraq] are coming home to? They're going to live a life like I have? God bless them."

Studies indicate that some will live such a life. Male veterans are 1.3 times more likely to become homeless than non-veterans, women 3.6 times more likely. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the estimated number of homeless Vietnam veterans is more than twice the number of soldiers, 58,000, who died in battle during that war.

In the past, data quantifying homelessness among veterans did not exist, said Phillip Mangano, who heads the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. "It's been precisely the lack of research that had us groping in the dark as far as what our response should be," he said.

...It is impossible to know exactly how many U.S. veterans are on the streets, but experts estimate that about 300,000 of them are homeless on any given night and that about half a million experience homelessness at some point during the year.

Now, as fighting continues in Iraq and Afghanistan, social service providers wonder what will happen to this generation of service men and women returning home from war.

"What are they going to do for these guys when they come home … other than wave a flag and buy them a beer?" asked Paul Camacho, a professor of social science at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Vietnam veteran.

...Homelessness among veterans is currently
the topic of joint talks between the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, said Peter Dougherty, the VA's director of homeless veterans programs.

"Traditionally, what happens to you after you leave has not been a concern of [the] service," he said.

The LA Times has a particularly noxious registration form, but go through it if you have to to read the rest of this. There ARE some folks busting their humps to help with this situation, many of them ex-veterans and ex-homeless themselves.

Oh, and you could always print out a copy, to have handy to shove up the nose of the next person who huffily accuses "the left" of not supporting our troops.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


copyright 2003-2010

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?