Maybe an egg biscuit and water? What kind of Hero treatment is that? It is little wonder that the VA can only host the homeless with a Stand Down once a year. Let’s look at the facts as provided by the Veteran’s Administration:
(This is a two day’s ration, about $2.60)
Photo by Carey Tilden
The Veteran’s Administration says this about its homeless program:
“VA is the only federal agency that provides substantial hands-on assistance directly to the homeless. It has the largest network of homeless assistance programs in the country. More than 10,000 transitional housing units and 2,000 permanent beds case managed by VA staff are available for homeless veterans throughout the country.”
There is a back side to that in the same paragraph:
“More than $200 million is dedicated to specialized homeless programs to assist homeless veterans, including grants and per diem payments to more than 300 public groups.”
And the VA says this on the homeless webpage:
“About one-third of the adult homeless population have served their country in the Armed Services. On any given day, as many as 200,000 veterans (male and female) are living on the streets or in shelters, and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. Many other veterans are considered near homeless or at risk because of their poverty, lack of support from family and friends, and dismal living conditions in cheap hotels or in overcrowded or substandard housing.”
Ok, lets see how this all adds up. 200 million funding per year, 400,000 homeless veterans per year and 200,000 homeless any one night. That is $500 per year per homeless hero ($1.37 per day) spread across all programs including grants, per diem and 300 public groups .
A dollar-thirty-seven a day. No wonder the vets like being homeless so much – they are getting rich off the per diem! Oh -wait - I forgot this isn’t 1807, it is 2007! Hoo boy, what a rip.
Wait… we are about to forget about the beds! The VA’s 2005 VA CHALENG report says 7688 beds, the VA’s PR report says 10,000 transitional (not permanent) beds and 2000 permanent beds. So we give them the benefit of the doubt 12,000 beds.
OK where are the other 188,000 homeless veterans going to sleep? Oh, yeah right, down to only 16 vets per bed from the 25 using the other numbers. Still ok for cold nights, cosy even.
I read from several of the faith-based community providers that the VA gives them $30 a day to house a homeless veteran. If that is the case, 200 million dollars would fund a total of 18,265 beds for a year, if no other programs used any of the money. Still short about 181,000 beds, or else 15 vets per bed.
But then, these are only Heroes that used to fight wars, not troops to be supported anymore. After all, what have they done for us lately? A better question is, “what have we done for them lately?” These men and women that served our country in time of war deserve 10,000 times better.
Our Heroes are still out there – just look in any alley and along any creek. Forty three percent of all homeless men are veterans, virtually all overlooked by our country.
We need to hold our heads down and cry!
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