Tuesday, April 1, 2008



Of course we can hear the Social Darwinists even now:  "Homeless veterans WANT to be homeless!  Why should my tax dollars go to help people who WANT to live on the streets."   Yup.  That sounds good to us.  Who wouldn't want to live on the streets during a Wisconsin winter.  Nothing like 10 or 20 below zero to stimulate the old cardio-vascular system. Or a 95 degree summer day in clothing that hasn't been washed since Hector was a pup.  And don't forget the meals--we hear garbage can left overs are a real treat.  By the same token living in warehouses or under bridges or in  old cars might be considered adequate housing in SOME deluded minds.

So let's correct that mythology right now.  Granted, there are a few veterans who might be reluctant to seek help because they view a need for help as a form of weakness.  You have to remember that the military tends to view psychological disorders and a need to seek help as a form of weakness, indeed, careers can be ruined if a person is deemed weak because of a psychological disorder which requires therapy.  So there may be some reluctance to seek out help in the first place, but that doesn't mean that homeless vets enjoy being homeless.  Virtually no one, save for the most severe cases, wants to live on the streets.  As we might have expected, the myth of the happy homeless started during the Reagen Administration and it continues to this very day. Sadly it is just that, a myth, and yet the degree to which weak-minded right wingers continue to believe in that lie is nothing less than shameful.

Instead of blaming the victim we would suggest looking at more realistic explanations. We just wrote about some of them, the governmental bureaucracy and red tape which delays approval for social programs; requiring those with psychological disorders to jump through extra hoops etc.  So maybe now we should look at more realistic explanations, including the governmental funding of various agencies and programs.

People assume that the Veterans Administration is of tremendous help to veterans,  As we have just learned it is helpful to veterans with physical disabilities.  Moreover there is no law requiring that the VA be funded at all.  As a matter of fact it is so under funded that in 2006 groups as diverse as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Disabled American Veterans urged Congress to increase the VA budget by more than $2 million.  Ideally what should happen is that Congress should pass a law mandating adequate funding for the VA, but that might actually save lives, not take or ruin them as George W. Bush and his merry band of blood thirsty imbeciles are so inclined to do.

Nor is the Department of Defense of that much help either, although it could be if it wanted to be.  At the present time the Defense Department is spending more than $5 billion dollars a month to occupy a country which had nothing to do with 911.  At the same time it spends a paltry $50 million to assist homeless veterans.  Why so little?  The answer is obvious.  The State Department believes that its one and only mission is to transform civilians, regular citizens, into soldiers.  Once the Veteran returns home and takes off that uniform, the DOD believes that its job is done.  It sees no reason to help transform soldiers into good, productive civilians, citizens if you will.  But isn't this an abdication of the DOD's basic mission?  Do not healthy, productive citizens provide another kind of defense for America?  Don't they contribute to her financial well being?  Of course they do.  Moreover one might argue that a productive, well adjusted citizenry not only provides for the defense of the country, it also make the country worth defending--facts which have apparently flown over the heads of both, the DOD and the Regime in Washington.  That said it is obvious that the DOD must be pressured and shamed into helping veterans readjust to civilian life.

All too often troubled veterans come home under the false impression that society is ready to help them with their problems.  They genuinely believe that there is a social network of social and veterans' programs out there to help them with medical bills and to help them find meaningful employment.  And then reality sets in; and in addition to the trauma which ended their tour of duty, they must now face a new trauma--the fact that they were led to believe a bill of goods before they marched off to war.  

So what can we expect if we continue to ignore veterans' issues? Nothing less than a tsunami of human misery.  Broken homes, broken families, domestic abuse, drug abuse, rising suicide rates among troubled veterans, and, of course, increases in the number of homeless vets.  Something has to change.  We need to recognize and then act upon the fact that some veterans are going to require special care and extra attention when they get home.  We need doctors and mental health care professionals who will be willing to work with these young men and women, profit be damned.  We need to step on governmental agencies and social programs and demand that they cut through the red tape, insisting that they process disability claims more quickly, regardless as to whether or not the disability is of a physical nature. 

In short we need to open our hearts and our pocket books and start treating our disabled and homeless vets with a little compassion, pride, and dignity.  Anything less is a waste of human potential.


New York Times
"Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans"
By Erik Eckholm; November 8, 2007

Military.com; Today in the Military
"Homeless Heroes"
By Paul Rieckhoff;  May 4, 2006

Alternet/War on Iraq
"Gimme Shelter"
By Rose Aguilar; February 8,


The New Standard
"Iraq War Veterans Already Joining Burgeoning Homeless Population"
By Ron Chepesiuk; February 11, 2005

Noli nothis permittere te terere
Jolan Tru
Brandon Alexander Geraghty-MacKenzie

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