Homeless Veterans Want to Be Remembered on Memorial Day
Published: May 22, 2007 at 06:48
Memorial Day was established as a day of remembrance in honor of Americans who have lost their lives while serving their country. But Joe Lansford of Alexandria believes that Americans should also use the occasion to remember living veterans in Indiana and across the country who struggle with homelessness because of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ failure to provide them with timely healthcare and disability payments when they completed their military service.
Lansford, a 52-year-old Vietnam Navy veteran who helped evacuate Americans and Vietnamese during the fall of Saigon, was homeless several times after he left the service in 1980 and lived a wretched existence in everything from makeshift tents to abandoned buildings as he struggled with alcoholism and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). “When I left the service, they didn’t give me any kind of medical evaluation,” he said. “They just handed me my discharge papers and my final check. It took the VA more than 20 years to figure out I had PTSD.” And even after doctors diagnosed Lansford with PTSD six years ago, 21 years after he completed his military service, it took the VA another two years to approve his disability pension.“The VA rejected my application for disability the first time, even though several doctors said I had PTSD,” Lansford said. “These delays are one reason why so many veterans end up homeless.”Indeed, according to VA’s own statistics, more than 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.(…)
“Members of Congress should do veterans a favor this Memorial Day and study the recommendations for reform that were provided to them by AMVETS last year,” said Tom McGriff, AMVETS’ national commander. “I would also encourage members of the public to write their congressmen and encourage them to read the report and to take action on the recommendations that were made to them.”
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s Armed Forces, AMVETS is the only veterans service organization that represents members of every branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserve. AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements as well as community services that enhance veterans’ quality of life. More information on AMVETS can be found at http://www.amvets.org/
Oldtimer’s Comment: I applaud the AMVETS for all they do!