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Show ALL Forums  > Politics  > Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States      Home login  
Joined: 10/17/2005
Msg: 1
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Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United StatesPage 1 of 1    
I've been saying for a long while now ... we are kicking our Vets to the curb!!!
Senator: 131,000 homeless vets a 'disgrace'

Posted: November 10th, 2009 04:20 PM ET
Washington (CNN) - Americans from coast to coast are getting ready to enjoy the annual Veterans Day holiday this week.
For thousands of homeless men and women who once served in the armed forces, however, the day is merely another reminder of "the thin line that exists between survival and despair," one U.S. senator said Tuesday.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey noted at a Senate subcommittee hearing on the subject.
"Veterans' homelessness is a national disgrace," he said.
"American heroes (are) huddled over a heating grate in the shadow of the Washington Monument, or curled up on a bench by the war memorials on the Mall in Washington, or trying to find shelter in cities across America."
The VA has concluded that 260,000 veterans are homeless over the course of a typical year, he added. An estimated one in four homeless men or women served in the military.

The increasing number of servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with the economic downturn, Menendez noted, has contributed to a recent spike in the number of homeless families with veterans.
"The federal government ... is not doing nearly enough when so many new veterans are falling through the cracks," he said. "The current system of dealing with their needs is being overwhelmed."
The VA is on track to spend approximately $3.2 billion on programs for homeless veterans this year, claimed Peter Dougherty, who heads up the VA's programs addressing homelessness. Out of that total, $2.7 billion will be directed toward health care services.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki recently outlined a five-year program designed to eliminate homelessness among veterans.
There may be a number of federal and state services, Iraq war veteran Lila Guy argued, but "most veterans don't know what options are out there for them."
Guy, who spent a year in Iraq with the Army, found herself homeless shortly after returning to the United States in 2006. Her husband left her and their children at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, when he learned that she would have to redeploy within a year, she said.
Guy was able to get a hardship discharge, but had trouble readjusting to civilian life as a single mother. Finding herself suddenly homeless, she moved back in with her parents.
She was eventually able to move into VA-assisted housing after being helped by her congressman, Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania.
A lot of soldiers, "come back with so many mental issues," she told the committee.
"The transition is hard. ... They train (you) to fight and do all those things (but) they don't teach you how to live a normal life when you get back."
Filed under: Bob Menendez • Veterans Affairs
WASHINGTON — Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.d homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education nonprofit, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.

In comparison, the VA says that 20 years ago, the estimated number of veterans who were homeless on any given night was 250,000.

Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

"We're going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous," said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.

While services to homeless veterans have improved in the past 20 years, advocates say more financial resources still are needed. With the spotlight on the plight of Iraq veterans, they hope more will be done to prevent homelessness and provide affordable housing to the younger veterans while there's a window of opportunity.

"When the Vietnam War ended, that was part of the problem. The war was over, it was off TV, nobody wanted to hear about it," said John Keaveney, a Vietnam veteran and a founder of New Directions in Los Angeles, which provides substance abuse help, job training and shelter to veterans.

"I think they'll be forgotten," Keaveney said of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. "People get tired of it. It's not glitzy that these are young, honorable, patriotic Americans. They'll just be veterans, and that happens after every war."

Keaveney said it's difficult for his group to persuade some homeless Iraq veterans to stay for treatment and help because they don't relate to the older veterans. Those who stayed have had success -- one is now a stock broker and another is applying to be a police officer, he said.
"They see guys that are their father's age and they don't understand, they don't know, that in a couple of years they'll be looking like them," he said.

After being discharged from the military, Jason Kelley, 23, of Tomahawk, Wis., who served in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard, took a bus to Los Angeles looking for better job prospects and a new life.

Kelley said he couldn't find a job because he didn't have an apartment, and he couldn't get an apartment because he didn't have a job. He stayed in a $300-a-week motel until his money ran out, then moved into a shelter run by the group U.S. VETS in Inglewood, Calif. He's since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.

"The only training I have is infantry training and there's not really a need for that in the civilian world," Kelley said in a phone interview. He has enrolled in college and hopes to move out of the shelter soon.

The Iraq vets seeking help with homelessness are more likely to be women, less likely to have substance abuse problems, but more likely to have mental illness -- mostly related to post-traumatic stress, said Pete Dougherty, director of homeless veterans programs at the VA.

Overall, 45 percent of participants in the VA's homeless programs have a diagnosable mental illness and more than three out of four have a substance abuse problem, while 35 percent have both, Dougherty said.
Historically, a number of fighters in U.S. wars have become homeless. In the post-Civil War era, homeless veterans sang old Army songs to dramatize their need for work and became known as "tramps," which had meant to march into war, said Todd DePastino, a historian at Penn State University's Beaver campus who wrote a book on the history of homelessness.

After World War I, thousands of veterans -- many of them homeless -- camped in the nation's capital seeking bonus money. Their camps were destroyed by the government, creating a public relations disaster for President Herbert Hoover.

The end of the Vietnam War coincided with a time of economic restructuring, and many of the same people who fought in Vietnam were also those most affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs, DePastino said.

Their entrance to the streets was traumatic and, as they aged, their problems became more chronic, recalled Sister Mary Scullion, who has worked with the homeless for 30 years and co-founded of the group Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia.

"It takes more to address the needs because they are multiple needs that have been unattended," Scullion said. "Life on the street is brutal and I know many, many homeless veterans who have died from Vietnam."

The VA started targeting homelessness in 1987, 12 years after the fall of Saigon. Today, the VA has, either on its own or through partnerships, more than 15,000 residential rehabilitative, transitional and permanent beds for homeless veterans nationwide. It spends about $265 million annually on homeless-specific programs and about $1.5 billion for all health care costs for homeless veterans.

Because of these types of programs and because two years of free medical care is being offered to all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Dougherty said they hope many veterans from recent wars who are in need can be identified early.

"Clearly, I don't think that's going to totally solve the problem, but I also don't think we're simply going to wait for 10 years until they show up," Dougherty said. "We're out there now trying to get everybody we can to get those kinds of services today, so we avoid this kind of problem in the future."

In all of 2006, the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 495,400 veterans were homeless at some point during the year.

The group recommends that 5,000 housing units be created per year for the next five years dedicated to the chronically homeless that would provide permanent housing linked to veterans' support systems. It also recommends funding an additional 20,000 housing vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans, and creating a program that helps bridge the gap between income and rent.

Following those recommendations would cost billions of dollars, but there is some movement in Congress to increase the amount of money dedicated to homeless veterans programs.

On a recent day in Philadelphia, case managers from Project H.O.M.E. and the VA picked up William Joyce, 60, a homeless Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair who said he'd been sleeping at a bus terminal.

"You're an honorable veteran. You're going to get some services," outreach worker Mark Salvatore told Joyce. "You need to be connected. You don't need to be out here on the streets."

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get these people some help?
Joined: 5/26/2008
Msg: 2
Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States
Posted: 11/11/2009 8:35:48 PM
It wouldn't just be 'nice', Cotter--it would be the right thing to do.
Our veterans should, at the VERY LEAST, have ample health care for the duration of their lives.
Not one of them should ever have to worry about where they'll live or how they'll get the medical help they need.

Makes me utterly ashamed of a country that turns its back on those who have stepped up to defend us.
Joined: 10/17/2005
Msg: 3
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Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States
Posted: 11/11/2009 9:15:19 PM
I square dance with a singles square dance club that feeds most of the homeless people in Columbus, Ohio on Christmas Day. We raise money for it by sponsoring a charity dance every year. We not only raise the money to furnish the food, but also serve the food and provide a Santa Claus for the children ... I take my Karaoke equipment and not only sing for them but give them the pleasure of singing too ... as they wait to be served.

We do it in conjunction with the church we dance in. The people enter the church into the sanctuary and are given numbers and that's where we sing and talk to them and the children visit Santa ... then they are called down to the gathering hall for dinner and after dinner we take them through a room full of clothes and things they need and they can take what they want.

We serve Vets in that way and then there is another option for them as well ... those who are not entirely homeless can still sign up to get Christmas dinner "in a box". They are people who can not afford to buy the food they need for Christmas dinner and they can come to the church the Saturday before Christmas and pick up a box with enough food in it to make Christmas dinner (a turkey and stuffing mix, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, and some sort of packaged desert) ... plus they too get to go through the clothing room and take what they need.

We collect clothes all year long for that and we have food drives (canned food) in the form of sponsoring a dance where people bring food to get in instead of paying to get in. People bring us boxes of food. Right before Christmas we sponsor a dance where people bring frozen turkeys as an entrance fee. The church puts them in their freezer and hauls them out a few days before the dinner ... and they are all baked in the church kitchen by volunteers ... it goes on for more than 36 hours straight.

Right now, at least 1/2 of those signed up for the box dinners ... Vets. That at least indicates they have a roof over their head but we don't always know under what circumstances they're living ... some without heat and hot water.
Joined: 6/25/2007
Msg: 4
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Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States
Posted: 11/12/2009 1:04:55 PM
I am in the process of starting a non-profit organization that will provide certain necessities to people who are struggling in these times. Namely, even though people have food stamps, things like paper products and grooming supplies are a necessity. Also gas for people to drive to job interviews--not everybody is lucky enough to live in an area served by public transportation.

As for the guy in LA, I have to say this and don't treat me like I'm mean-spirited or something. He chose to move there. He could have stayed presumably with family in Wisconsin, he could have saved money while on active duty. I was an infantry enlisted soldier and officer and while none of my civilian jobs have required me to participate in flanking maneuvers or vertical envelopment, the ability to accept hardship through discipline, the overcoming of fear, the focus on mission as well as your troops' welfare are all translatable to civilian employment in any career field.
Joined: 10/17/2005
Msg: 5
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Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States
Posted: 11/12/2009 7:57:46 PM

I am in the process of starting a non-profit organization that will provide certain necessities to people who are struggling in these times. Namely, even though people have food stamps, things like paper products and grooming supplies are a necessity. Also gas for people to drive to job interviews--not everybody is lucky enough to live in an area served by public transportation.
After reading that ... I'm going to see if we can sponsor a dance that the entrance fee will be to bring paper products and grooming supplies .... even shampoo and perhaps liquid soap (soap bars are not easy to confine once used and liquid soap could double as shampoo). I'll mention it to the club at the next dance on Tuesday. Great idea!!!!

Of course an ongoing concern is the homeless status of our Veterans ... that is a disgrace to our country. I know I had a lot of them in my psyche units (cells ... one was a lock down unit for the more severe cases) down in Tampa in the jail. The problem is that they cannot get help through the VA and then without medications they can't deal with society and the end result is homelessness as well as eventually breaking the law either related to drug addiction or alcohol abuse or a combination thereof ... stealing becomes a problem because they have to support the habits they have developed. That's when I encounter them in the jail.

We do our best ... through the penal system to get them into halfway houses supported by the VA and group homes also supported by the VA, but they are few and far between and without some sort of source or social worker (as is in our jails) these people are not getting hooked up with what is out there ... not there would ever be a place for all of them!!! (Sigh)

I've seen what it does to them and it is demoralizing. Some look at me with tears in their eyes and just ask ... "What did I do to deserve this? I thought I did right when I was drafted (Vietnam Vet), but why did they leave us high and dry?"
 bliss serendipity
Joined: 12/27/2006
Msg: 6
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Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States
Posted: 11/16/2009 12:14:22 PM
This is interesting to read,

VA Sec. Shinseki: "I’m here to end veteran homelessness"
by Turkana

Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 0750 AM PST

One of the most insidious lies often disseminated by the corporate media, and still permeating much of public consciousness, is that Republicans care more than Democrats about our service personnel. That President Obama recently visited Arlington National Cemetery and Dover Air Force Base were important symbolic gestures which demonstrated a clear break from Bush Administration aloofness, but last week also saw a huge substantive move by the Obama Administration in actually providing actual support for veterans.

As reported by the Associated Press:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Tuesday unveiled a plan to end veterans’ homelessness in five years, saying that without action the improvements of recent years could be lost because of the bad economy.

Shinseki said the VA will spend $3.2 billion next year to reduce homelessness among veterans and is working to strengthen partnerships with other government agencies and service organizations. He said he recognizes that a goal of zero homeless veterans is ambitious but that he wants a high target so that everyone puts in their best efforts.

"My name is Shinseki and I’m here to end veteran homelessness," he said at the beginning of a speech to 1,200 service providers at a VA summit.

Veterans of the Bush Wars are suffering from myriad personal traumas, including dramatic rises in mental illness, including PTSD, and spiking rates of suicide and homelessness, with a doubling of homeless female veterans, alone. And with little wonder. The Bush Administration's treatment of our men and women in uniform was nothing less than abusive.

In the past week, Salon has been reporting criminal neglect and mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery, but I long ago began compiling a list of Bush Administration abuses of our military.

Overused and over-extended.

Christian Science Monitor: As of the beginning of 2006, Stop-Loss policy had prevented at least 50,000 troops from leaving the military when their service was scheduled to end.

USA Today: Multiple deployments are adding to the troops' stress.

United Press International: Nearly two-thirds of polled veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars consider the military over-extended.

Spiegel Online: Troops stationed in Germany are increasingly going AWOL rather than be cannon fodder for Bush's insanity.

New York Times: The army had to revise updwards its understated desertion rate.

Associated Press: The army now has the highest desertion rate since 1980.

Boston Globe: West Point graduates are leaving the military at the highest rate in three decades, as repeated tours of Iraq drive out some of the army's best young officers.

Los Angeles Times: Both Republican and Democratic governors warned Bush that using National Guard troops for his escalation was overburdening units already stretched to their limits.

Associated Press: Two army brigades had to forgo their desert training to accomodate Bush's escalation schedule.

Associated Press: Deployed single parents are having to fight to retain custody of their children.

CNN: In April of 2007, tours of duty were extended from 12 to 15 months.

New York Times: Republicans killed Senator Webb's attempt to give troops more down time between deployments.

Inadequately protected

New York Times: A 2006 study showed that eighty percent of marines killed from upper body wounds would have survived, if they'd had adequate body armor.

Newsweek: Troops have been having to improvise their own vehicle armor, because the military hasn't been providing the real thing.

Washington Post: Even as the escalation began, thousands of Army Humvees still lacked FRAG Kit 5 armor protection.

Inadequately cared for, when wounded or scarred.

Salon: The Veterans Administration knew as early as 2004 that there were serious problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center- and did nothing.

Salon: The Department of Defense also knew about the problems long before public exposure and the resulting outcry forced them to actually do something about it.

National Public Radio: Veterans are receiving fewer medical disability benefits now than before the war.

MSNBC: Up to twenty percent of Iraq Vets may be suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Washington Post: A Pentagon task force concluded that the available medical care for those troops suffering psychological problems is "woefully inadequate."

TXCN News: Soldiers were provided such inadequate supplies of water, on the battlefield, that it was literally making them ill.

Actually being sent back into battle, when medically unfit.

Salon: Wounded soldiers classified as medically unfit for battle were being reclassified as fit, so they could be sent back into battle.

Salon: These reclassifications were done to provide enough manpower for Bush's escalation.

Salon: Even soldiers with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were being sent back to Iraq.

The bottom line.

Stacy Bannerman, in Foreign Policy in Focus:

Pentagon statistics reveal that the suicide rate for U.S. troops who have served in Iraq is double what it was in peacetime.

Soldiers who have served -- or are serving -- in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked. According to a report recently released by the Defense Manpower Data Center, suicide accounted for over 25 percent of all noncombat Army deaths in Iraq in 2006. One of the reasons for "the higher suicide rate in Iraq [is] the higher percentage of reserve troops," said military analyst James F. Dunnigan.

CBS News:

About 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of Marines report psychological conditions such as brain injury and PTSD after returning from deployment. Among members of the National Guard, the figure is much higher — 49 percent — with numbers expected to grow because of repeated and extended deployments.

Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that:

The prevalence of reporting a mental health problem was 19.1% among service members returning from Iraq compared with 11.3% after returning from Afghanistan and 8.5% after returning from other locations (P

Washington Post:

Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980, according to a draft internal study obtained by The Washington Post. Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more than in 2006.

At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began. Last year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide, compared with about 350 in 2002, according to the U.S. Army Medical Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

Another new study shows the rate of PTSD among Iraq troops could be as high as 35%. The Bush Administration pushed our service personnel beyond human endurance. With this unprecedented pledge, President Obama and Secretary Shinseki are demonstrating what it really means to support our troops!

Joined: 10/17/2005
Msg: 7
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Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States
Posted: 11/22/2009 9:49:11 PM
Apparently PTSD is a contributing factor to not only the deaths of our Veterans, but also their homelessness. I think the fact that many are being turned away for treatment is a direct contributor to the homelessness.

It's despicable for anyone to even insinuate that our Vets don't deserve to get care and it's despicable to stand back and say that all Vets can get care when you know damn well that many are being turned away.

Further, it was (and still remains) despicable of the last administration to turn their back on the very men they sent off to the illegal wars. "Dubya" cut benefits for the Vets shortly after sending them off to war where he knew damn well they would be maimed and mutilated and being exposed to all that bombing that causes the PTSD. We have never had such a despicable and sorry excuse for a president in the history of the US.
Joined: 6/25/2007
Msg: 8
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Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States
Posted: 12/15/2009 1:59:09 PM
Since I was helped when I was down and out, now that I am somewhat secure I feel it is my duty to help out those who are suffering. It doesn't need to be legislated by the government, it is my decision and mine alone. However, if they are going to be participating in adventures overseas the least they can do is take care of those who helped spread their ideology, right or wrong!

This said, life in California or other desirable areas should not be an entitlement--you should be able to live wherever you can afford to and if that place is boring, you supply your own form of "action"!!!
Joined: 10/17/2005
Msg: 9
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Veterans Make Up One in Four Homeless People in the United States
Posted: 12/15/2009 8:59:25 PM
Message 2 (geeleebee) ...

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get these people some help?

It wouldn't just be 'nice', Cotter--it would be the right thing to do.

Makes me utterly ashamed of a country that turns its back on those who have stepped up to defend us.
What surprises me is that a lot of people did not know ... or perhaps just were too involved in their own miseries to realize that the previous administration not only cut the VA budget, but apparently encouraged them to dismiss the needs of our Vets ... sending the PTSD folks right out the door and basically just telling them they're imagining it all. So despicable.

Message 4 (Barbe1963) ...
Kudos to you Cotter, and the church your group partners with to take care of your people in need in your city. Especially during this economic crisis, it's imperative that we do what we can to help those in need.
Thank you Barbe ... I know we do not always agree on things, but I know you mean that with all your heart. It's a great feeling to be able to do what we do.

One of our dancers is legally blind but never missed playing the Santa Claus. He says it something he looks forward to all year long now that he cannot go to work and unless someone else drives, can't even get to the dances.

The group will assist this weekend with passing out the boxes of food (and bags of clothing if they want it) for those with a place to go and then starting on the 23rd, we fire up all available ovens and start making the food. Anything that can be cooked or baked and then put in a refrigerator to be warmed up later will get processed first and then the turkeys and meat go in the ovens.

I will be there on Christmas Day helping in all capacities since I often provide music and entertainment up in the sanctuary where they are waiting. Cross your fingers that I do not get a cold or cough before that since I am usually singing for them and those that want ... are allowed to also get up and sing. I have my own professional Karaoke equipment and it gets put to good use at times like that.

Message 9 (edisto)

It's despicable for anyone to even insinuate that our Vets don't deserve to get care and it's despicable to stand back and say that all Vets can get care when you know damn well that many are being turned away.

as a mother of a vet
and one that is homeless, but 4500 miles away from me
I want to thank you for your post-
You are quite welcome.

I have no way of helping him get the help that he needs-

if he could get help on his own
he wouldn't be homeless
it's a catch 22
people expecting him to do what they tell him to, sign this, call there-
but that's just it,
he can't...
and they act like he just won't...
Whether you realize it or not ... it appears those are the very same people who also do not want our nation to get national health care.

I hope you (edisto) can get him home for the holidays and maybe he will let you help him. If nothing else, go to the local VA clinic and get paper work started for him so that he could maybe then continue elsewhere if he doesn't stay with you.

If we even just had national health care ... then even if the VA turned him down or he wasn't able to do the paper work for them ... at least he could still go to any clinic and get care.
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