This story was passed to me by wanderingvet (Homeless Veteran Survival Guide)
You can read his account there. I want to say something about our homeless heroes and how they are often shamefully treated.
The gist of this particular problem as related by Wandering Vet is that on his way to a Stand Down in Nashville, he was dropped off at a Birmingham truck stop manned by a security guard who seems to have a problem with homeless people and with homeless veterans in particular.
Never mind that this is a veteran who honorably served active duty in service to our beloved country.
Never mind that this hero was being very careful to not bother anyone, who had purposely purchased a cola so that he was a paying customer, who had agreed to stand off the property and wait for a ride… never mind all that.
This is a problem that our homeless friends deal with all the time. It is a problem that all too often doesn’t differentiate a homeless man from a homeless hero. To me there is a difference. We owe these men and women that risk their lives for our country and all too often end up homeless through no fault of their own. We should do better.
The abuse often starts for our heroes when they first hit the VA radar, sometimes even before. The VA far too often either fails to properly diagnose a service related problem like PTSD or does so after so much delay that the Hero Veteran, who is unable to hold a job loses his home, then his family, then his pride, and then ends up homeless, living in the streets or the woods. Sometimes the problem is that the military takes the easy way out and dischages the soldier under a guise of preconditional personality disorder so that they end up without benefits and sometimes charged back for sign up bonus money.
Our veteran heroes make up 27% of our male population but 43% of the homeless male population. That implies that they are vastly over represented among the homeless. It is apparent that military service is an overriding causal factor in this overrepresentation. Our country has a history of such shabby treatment of our veterans!
The abuse continues when a veteran encounters the police who are instructed to move the homeless out of town any way they can. Unwarranted questions, unwarranted and often illegal searches, unwarranted demands to leave a park or bench or even the county, moved on with threats of arrest.
Homeless veterans suffer the same types of abuse and sometimes violence against them that all of our homeless have to submit to, as it often is not apparent that that homeless man trying to get a meal or asking for a job or looking for a place to camp or for a ride is actually a veteran victim of our system that honors our warriors until they are used up and then dumped on our streets, to be honored no more.
Heroes don’t stop being heroes just because they have fallen on hard times.
The Wanderingvet’s story is typical of what all our homeless suffer. What makes it so egregious is that the security guard and the police both soon knew that he was a veteran, yet he was disrespected instead of shown compassion, forced to give up his rights instead of helped, forced to suffer in the sun instead of given an opportunity to get a ride, forced to walk instead of roll.
It will be worth your while to check out his story and file a comment with the corporate office of this trucking firm (see the link at the end of his story). There are two sides to every story, but I come down on the side of those who fought for our freedom, for those who are among our poorest, and those who are willing to fight back, as they are most often in the right. I filed a complaint. If enough of us do, maybe the next homeless veteran that comes through Birmingham and stops at the Pilot Fuel Plaza will get the hero treatment he or she deserves.
Keep in mind that it is not so much the trucking firm as it is an employee of a security company and his training and attitude that seem to be an issue here. However the trucking firm is responsible for the policy of how it handles its customers and any homeless person that comes by and how the security handles it. The firm should change its policy (in writing) when it comes to compassion for the homeless and in particular for the homeless who have served their country and helped keep us all free – including the truckers.
Our Heroes Deserve Better Than This!