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.


Veteran’s Day: Some Facts

November 11, 2007


  • At 11 minutes past the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the “War to End All Wars,” “The Great War,” World War I officially came to an end. A year later, President Woodrow Wilson called on the nation to observe Armistice Day and honor the soldiers who had served in World War I; in 1926, Congress declared it an official federal holiday.
  • The purpose of Veterans Day and Memorial Day are often confused. Memorial Day is for honoring military personnel who died in service to their country. Veterans Day is for thanking ALL men and women who have served honorably in the military during times of war and peace.
  • Over 48 million Americans have served in the military during war and peace since 1776.
  • There are currently about 25 million living veterans.
  • Of the 25 million living veterans, most (75 percent) served during a war or an official period of hostility.
  • About one in four homeless people are veterans.
  • 43% of homeless males over 25 are veterans.
  • In contrast to earlier American wars, where only men engaged in combat, many veterans returning from today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are women. The new study found that female veterans are more likely to be homeless than non-veteran females, and that overall, female veterans are more likely to be homeless than their male counterparts.

Tearing Immigrant Families Apart

October 3, 2007

Eduardo Gonzalez, a petty officer second class with the U.S. Navy, is about to be deployed overseas for a third time. What makes his story particularly saddening is the fact that while he is gone, his wife may face deportation. He doesn’t know what would happen to his young son if she is deported.

“I like being in uniform and serving my country, but if she goes back I’m going to have to give it all up and just get out and take care of my son and get a job,” he said. “Defending the country that’s trying to kick my family out is a thought that always runs through my mind.”

These cases are handled one by one by the immigration authorities not the government. It is a conflicted situation because the government is supposed to help military families but at the same time another part of the government is try to stem the illegal immigrant population.

“What’s happening right now is, because of the dysfunction and complexity of our immigration laws, we’ve got people fighting overseas who are facing the impossible situation of having family members facing deportation back home,” she said.

His wife came to the US when she was 5 under political asylum because of her status as a war refugee from Guatemala. Her mother applied for legalization with her on the application and was approved. The problem is that six weeks before the approval, she married Gonzalez. By marrying him, her mother could no longer apply for her (you have to be unmarried and under 21). As a result, her legal status still remains in danger.

While they don’t have the exact numbers this is not an uncommon experience.

U.S. Army Sgt. Emmanuel Woko, a member of the Army’s 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division who faces his third tour in Iraq, understands just how Gonzalez and his family feel. His wife and children could be sent back to Nigeria. “My heart is bleeding on the thought that my wife could be deported back to Nigeria while I am deployed in Iraq,” he said. “I am extremely distressed and distracted by the thought.”

Story


Hear what a “real” soldier has to say

September 29, 2007

I was reading the Huffington Post, and one of the best features is that there are so many guest bloggers. One guest is John Soltz, he is the chair of VoteVets.org and in an Iraq and Kosovo veteran. He is from Pittsburgh, and attended the University of Pittsburgh for grad school. He is considered one of the major voices on veteran and military issues. He has written a post in response to Rush Limbaugh’s disrespectful and uneducated statements. Limbaugh referred to the men and women of the armed forces that denounce the war in Iraq after they return from service the “phony soldiers”.

Jon Soltz’s Response to Rush Limbaugh

If you want to hear crazy Rush’s “phony soldiers” bit, here it is. limbaugh-20070926-soldiers.mp3

For some reason the video i had about it just won’t work. So this is old school mp3, but I think it should work.


Intense Photography

September 19, 2007

This is a long entry, but it is about something I really think everyone should see. One of my favorite parts of Newsweek are the photo essays. The clarity and the conscience of the pictures always amaze me. It’s like the photographers actually tell you something in each picture. And the subjects often speak for themselves. Newsweek does its part by providing helpful captions and additional information. Sometimes the photo essays accompany entire articles, one in particular stood out for me: How AIDS changed America. The article was interesting and well written, next to the article there is a link to the slide show as well.

Msnbc hosts a ton of Newsweek photo essays on their site. Newsweek Photos. Unfortunately I cannot link directly to them, you have to pick the one to look at from the list. I think they are all worth checking out. But specifically the following ones are excellent (its not my fault it distorted the icons, I blame wordpress):

Here is one picture from the “Smallest Slaves” essay, since I don’t have enough blog memory to post my favorites from each:

untitled.jpg