Veteran’s Day: Our Heroes, Our Homeless

November 11, 2007

Who are homeless veterans?

The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says the nation’s homeless veterans are mostly males. The majority are single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45% suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. They have served in every war from the second World War to Iraq.

How many homeless veterans are there?

The VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country.

Why are veterans homeless?

In addition to the complex set of factors affecting all homelessness — extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income, and access to health care — a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.

Doesn’t the Department of Veterans Affairs take care of homeless veterans?

With an estimated 400,000 veterans homeless at some time during the year, the VA reaches 25% of those in need. For more information about VA homeless veteran programs, go to www.va.gov/homeless/.

What services do veterans need?

Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing and nutritional meals; essential physical health care, substance abuse aftercare and mental health counseling; and personal development and empowerment. Veterans also need job assessment, training and placement assistance.

The solution?

I don’t know. More government money, more private charity, and more awareness would be a start. But on a personal level, I think the first step is just keeping in mind when you see the homeless on our streets that many of them fought for our country.  I also think this is a cause that organized religion really can and often does step up for.  I know personally, my church and the Catholic church in general does a lot to help the plight of the homeless.

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Apparently civil rights don’t include gays or women

October 24, 2007

Homosexuality is a sickness, just as are baby-rape or wanting to become head of General Motors. ~Eldridge Cleaver, “Notes on a Native Son,” Soul on Ice, 1968

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I recently came across this gem of a quote by Eldridge Cleaver and have begun to read Soul on Ice. I have not finished by any means, and as such will reserve final judgment until the end. But so far it has been possibly the oddest read of all times. It has insane range. It varies from brutally honest introspective analysis to preachy ivory tower judgments of others. It varies from oblivious and cocky to self aware and humble. It may be the most offensive thing I’ve ever read (that was not intended as hate speech) towards both women and gays. But at the same time he is very aware of his misogyny and understands his hatred is misdirected. He admits to raping multiple women and practice on girls from the ghetto. There are no direct references really, but it is well known he killed several people over the course of his life.

The book was extremely popular in the 60s, he was a revolutionary (literally and figuratively) and was considered a significant civil rights figure. But his idea of civil rights was extremely limited. He notoriously switched religions at his convenience and after each conversion was a fierce proponent of that religion and its accompanying doctrine. I think if he came forward in our politically correct world and tried to step up as a civil rights leader, he would be a laughing stock. An angry, violent ex con with a disposition towards sexism and homophobia telling us how the world should be equal. Equal for black men at least, all the while flip flopping on religion and trying to assist international revolutions.

As it is with all the crazies, I admire his passion. I am looking forward to finishing his book, and to researching him further. Maybe there is a movie!


Clinton gets some gay lovin’

September 24, 2007

I thought my dream magazine cover had materialized when I first saw:

What could be more perfect? Clinton, who is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent females of her generation, is the cover of the Advocate. Two possibilities, one she is announcing she is a lesbian, which would be pretty much the coolest ever, since the new face of lesbianism would be a brilliant successful woman, rather than a shaved head lumber jack. Or she has decided to embrace gay marriage completely rather than civil unions. Either way I was down.

But then I read the article. While she has a track record of respecting the gay and lesbian community and she is still my choice for the primary, she just reiterated her typical stances on all the relevant issues. But the article points out the obvious question. Why do the gays love her? The article states: “Just why are we so in love with Hillary? Her husband signed the vile “don’t ask, don’t tell” law and the nefarious Defense of Marriage Act, she refuses to endorse same-sex marriage even though everyone suspects she privately supports it, and on other issues important to us she can sound a little soulless.”

For me, it is just she is the only candidate that I honestly believe sees no difference between gay and straight people. For political reasons she cannot endorse gay marriage, and if that would make her an unviable candidate I wouldn’t want her to. But she has courted the gay vote since long before it was the norm for democrats, she opposes her husband’s don’t ask don’t tell, and she is the most visibly comfortable with gay issues. Most of the candidates say the right thing but look queasy when asked about gay issues. I don’t Clinton is even the most liberal candidate; it is probably related to being the only female candidate. In general women seem to be more tolerant. Maybe she understands discrimination better than your average rich white man.

She might have a run for her money, many gays are jumping on the Obama bandwagon. I think this election will change history in any event.  But we’ll see.

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