Vets plagued by homelessness
The following story is out of Lansing, Michigan. It is the story of a Desert Storm Veteran that hasn’t been able to hold a job in 10 years and is living on the streets, one of about 175 homeless veterans in Lansing.
Desert Storm Veteran on the Streets
Written by Clay Taylor
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Willie Moore Jr., a war veteran, wakes up around 5:30 every morning. After some coffee and a glance at the news, he’s ready to start the day. After attending meetings at Michigan Works! and talking to his caseworker at Volunteers of America, he begins looking for a job.
Moore hasn’t held a job for 10 years, but he’s still optimistic about finding one. He takes advantage of services offered to homeless veterans in the Lansing area.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, at least 195,000 veterans were homeless in America in 2006. Veterans are grossly overrepresented in the homeless community, according to Patrick Patterson, VoA’s vice president of operations in Lansing. “One in eight of the general population is a veteran,” Patterson said. “You’ll find vets in the homeless population around 25 percent.” Patterson said that the greater Lansing area plays host to an average 700 homeless individuals on any given day. Roughly 175 of them are veterans.
Willie Moore Jr., one Lansing’s hundreds of homeless vets,
near the Hall of Justice in Lansing, the site of the annual
Stand Down for Veterans service event sponsored last
week by Volunteers of America. (Clay Taylor/City Pulse)
The explanation for the vast amount of homeless veterans stems from three main causes, says Cheryl Beversdorf, president of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. She said some soldiers are hindered by mental illnesses or physical disabilities caused by war trauma or substance abuse. Finding a job is also difficult, as many soldiers joined the service in lieu of attending college and never learned how to prepare a resume and market themselves as potential employees. The third reason is a lack of cheap, safe, affordable housing.
“If you don’t have a job, and you have health problems, trying to find a place to live that is safe and affordable is very difficult,” Beversdorf said.
Moore knows the troubles faced by returning veterans all too well. A veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Moore joined the Army on April 11, 1989, his 24th birthday. His unit, 164th Chemical Company, was preparing to ship out to Saudi Arabia until its orders changed. As a result, Moore never saw combat. He said that he was more disciplined when he returned from duty, and like his high school baseball days, it gave him another chance to wear a uniform.
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