Category Archives: disabled vets

Homeless Veteran in Ohio cites Cat, “Companion Animal” as therapy

Companion Animal – One Cat Dose 

The following is from a blog by a disabled veteran living in NE Ohio.  He has been blogging since June of 2006 about his life and his attempts to negotiate through the VA system for medical care and also into some sort of housing.   I’ve had a copy of this article for some time because I was doing a little research on the homeless-with-pets problem.  Most shelters will not allow pets, and thus disenfranchise shelters as an option for many.   This homeless vet has at least been able to do some couch surfing with friends, but only those that allow a cat in the house.   Some won’t, but he can’t function without it.    He is working on a disability claim for 10 months now and is stewing over whether or not the VA will let him keep his cat if they find him an affordable place. 

The following came from his June 2006 archiveSee his blog here

Since last July when I became homeless, I have had to pare down even more of my belonging, throwing a lot of stuff out. Last July, between garbage and GoodWill bags — we counted 28. I really used to be an “adult” — a rack of kitchen small appliances, formal dining room, china, flatware, full living room, “home office”, guest bed, my own washer&dryer, all of that “adult” stuff, and now here I am, 30-something, with my “world” in a rented storage bay, trying to find a place to sleep where my cat is welcome too.

“Housed-homeless”, it seems like such a strange concept, but there’s probably more of us “couch surfing” veterans than anyone is counting as “officially” homeless

As to VA Homeless resources: the biggest set-back to me accessing VA homeless assistance right now is my cat. My social worker and [new!] psychiatrist have very well documented the fact that during the 10 months my disability claim was re-opened and still now that I am waiting on my I.U. claim — one singular thought “my cat can’t feed herself” has kept me from doing really stupid things more times than I can count.

In January, my psychiatrist amusingly asked me if I was OK with just one cat or if I felt I needed to “move up to a two cat dose.” No crap, he really asked me that! I told him that if she had a playmate, she would probably ignore me, so one cat works plenty fine for me. 8lbs of nothing but fuzz and cuddles can really make a difference on an ugly day.

They won’t let me move without her, and finding open space with any friends where both of us are welcome is really tough. It’s true, she does keep me alive, so I can’t really argue with them, but trying to find yet another place where both of us are welcome drives me completely insane whenever I wear out my welcome where I am at. The VA prefers that I spend $20/month on food and litter, rather than ask them to spend several thousand dollars to keep me inpatient every time the world looks really black and I can’t even fathom as far as “lunchtime tomorrow.”

Every time it takes me weeks to find somewhere I can keep her with me and actually have to consider the reality that I might just have to give her up — yes, my world falls apart. My cat is listed as a “companion animal” in my records, not as a pet, but do you think the VA is doing much to help me find an affordable place where I can keep her? Cats are not the VA’s job.

Oldtimer’s Comment:  Click for All Homeless Veteran Posts

Veterans Protest Over ‘Lack Of Care’ Outside Of LA’s VA

West LA VA Medical CenterThe group Citizens For Veterans’ Rights estimates there are between 15,000 and 24,000 homeless veterans living in Los Angeles County. 

Veteran:  “We ask the people behind those gates, ‘open those gates.’ Give that service and give a home to the homeless veteran.”   (Picture from VA Web site)

Find the rest of this story here
March 16, 2007
LOS ANGELES — Veterans marched outside the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center on Friday in protest of what they said is a lack of care being provided to aging veterans and soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Between 70 and 75 veterans and supporters marched “to draw attention to policies at the West Los Angeles VA that have led to the deaths of veterans,” said organizer Keith Jeffreys.(…)   During the protest at San Vicente and Wilshire Boulevards, veteran Jay Handle said more medical and social services need to be provided to the men and women returning from war.  “We have a major problem here that hasn’t been recognized nationally, and the major problem is those gates are locked to the people who are standing out here every day,” Handle said.  “We ask the people behind those gates, ‘open those gates.’ Give that service and give a home to the homeless veteran.”The group Citizens For Veterans’ Rights estimates there are between 15,000 and 24,000 homeless veterans living in Los Angeles County, Jeffreys said.   In the 2005 Homeless Count, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority estimated Los Angeles County has more than 15,000 homeless vets.“It’s an enormous burden for Los Angeles County to bear so we look at it not only as a local issue but we need changes made VA-wide, starting with Washington,” Jeffreys said.“We have to roll up our sleeves here and quit talking about making changes and really make changes.”Comment:  This particular hospital recently made the news for removing the wrong testicle from a veteran during cancer surgery.
HEROES need our help more than ever!
Oldtimers Comment:  Click here for all Homeless Veterans Articles

From Serving in Iraq To Living on the Streets

Homeless Vet Numbers Expected to Grow
Oldtimer’s Comment:  The following are excerpts from a lengthy and important story in The Washington Post.  These tidbits only serve to summarize some of the important points of the story.  I encourage you to read the rest at the link below.

Please visit this site and read the rest of the story
By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 5, 2007 

Aaron ChesleyAaron Chesley, 26, is part of a new crop of veterans
who served in Iraq or Afghanistan who are struggling with homelessness. (Photo by Carol Guzy — The Washington Post)“In a homeless shelter filled with Vietnam War veterans, Chesley, 26, a former Catonsville High School honors student who joined the West Virginia Army National Guard in 2000 to help pay for college, was the only one in the facility who fought in the country’s latest conflict. But across the nation, veterans of recent combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are slowly starting to trickle into shelters, officials say.(…)  As in the Vietnam War era, when thousands of vets ended up homeless, there are already signs that the recent conflicts are taking a traumatic psychological toll on some service members. Many veterans’ advocates said that despite unprecedented attempts by the military and Veterans Affairs to care for veterans, increasing numbers of the new generation of warriors are ending up homeless.“This is something we need to be concerned about,” said Cheryl Beversdorf, president of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, a Washington-based nonprofit.(…)  Army studies have found that up to 30 percent of soldiers coming home from Iraq have suffered from depression, anxiety or PTSD. A recent study found that those who have served multiple tours are 50 percent more likely to suffer from acute combat stress.Veterans’ homeless shelters across the country, such as the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training in Baltimore, are bracing for increased demand. “The wave has not hit yet, but it will,” said retired Army Col. Charles Williams, MCVET’s executive director.(…) “Usually it takes a period of time before it surfaces — the PTSD,” (Woody Curry) said. “And the military mentality leads you to try to tough it out and not say anything.”(…) Meanwhile, a report by the Democratic staff of the House Veterans Affairs Committee found that from October 2005 to June 2006, the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking services from walk-in veterans centers doubled, from 4,467 to 9,103.“It’s clear from the report that Vet Center capacity has not kept pace with demand for services, and the administration has failed to properly plan and prepare for the mental health needs of returning veterans and their families,” U.S. Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-Maine), a member of the committee, said in a statement.

(…)

Oldtimer

Homeless Veterans – Overview of the Problem

I’ve recently posted a Homeless Veterans – Summary article which I have retitled and copied to a special page titled “Homeless Veterans – Overview of the Problem” (see the links above my banner).   I’ve added to it a link that pulls all of the Homeless Veterans series together,  more than 50 articles.   It is also copied below.

I invite you to come back and read this series.  It is an eye-opener.   The one thing you should gain is an understanding of how massive the problem is and how underfunded the VA allocations are for helping our Heroes sleeping on our sidewalks for lack of government help.    Veterans make up only 1/17 of the US population but 1/3 of the homeless population.   Considering male veterans, it is even worse.  Male veterans make up 43% of the homeless adult male population.  Something is dreadfully wrong.

If our government took care of our men and women who have served us in war so well, then the overall homeless problem could be reduced by 40% overnight. With 40% less to feed and clothe, our so generous secular and religious homeless service organizations could cope with the rest of the homeless problem so much better.

Read the complete overview here (reprinted below).

Find all the Homeless Veteran articles here (85 to  date)

There is a Problem and the VA is not stepping up to the plate to address it.

It should be obvious by now that our homeless veterans are not being served well at all.  If the homeless veterans were properly cared for by our country, the total homeless population would fall by more than 40 percent over night.

Homeless services would then have sufficient funding to move many of the rest of the homeless off the streets into transitional housing with services that bring them back into the working population.   It would be a dream come true.  If only our country would step up to the plate, homelessness in our country would be virtually eliminated.  If only….

Lets Summarize the Homeless Veteran Situation.

750,000 total homeless count in U.S
400,000  veterans are homeless at some time in a  year
200,000 veterans homeless in any one night

27% of our male U.S. population are veterans but:
43% of all homeless males are veterans – why?


7688 beds funded by the VA for homeless veterans
192,312 sleeping elsewhere – shelters, grates, creekbeds, back alleys.    We have Heroes sleeping on sidewalks in every big city.

The VA says homelessness is not related to military service, but:

Veterans are twice as likely to be homeless than civilians

You may think that homeless veterans served poorly in military, but:

95% of homeless vets have honorable discharges

The VA claims it has the largest network of homeless assistance programs in the country, but:

Total VA funding is only $1.37 per homeless vet per day.
VA funded beds provide for only 1 of every 26 homeless vets
VA funds only 7688 beds for 200,000 homeless veterans on any given night of the year.

Current (2007) grants cover only 1 bed per 192 mentally ill homeless veterans, and allocates only 14 cents a day per mentally ill veteran.  Fifteen states get none of these grant monies, 15 more get grants for one organization in the state, and 20 get the bulk of the funding.

The VA announced a 20% reduction in homeless vets over the last 6 years, but failed to say it was due to the way they count them.  The number they reported hasn’t changed in the last four years.  During the same period, more than 23% of our Vietnam vets died.

The mix of homeless veterans has changed in the last 9 years
1997             2006
Korea             1o%               4%           almost gone
Vietnam          42%              39%        dying out
Gulf War         10%              16%        rapidly increasing

Our Korean veterans are getting old and dying out
Our Gulf War veterans are increasing rapidly
Our Vietnam veterans have the largest homeless rate by far.

Fact:  If our country stepped up to the plate and provided for our homeless veterans,  the homeless population would fall instantly by 43 percent.

Note:  To find all of the more than 85 Homeless Veterans articles Click Here

I’ve made a few of the posts dealing with useful facts pages that are listed above the banner at the top of this site.   (where you found this one).

Heroes don’t deserve

to be treated like this!

Write your Congressman!

Oldtimer

Homeless Veterans – An Overview of the Problem

It should be obvious by now that our homeless veterans are not being served well at all.  If the homeless veterans were properly cared for by our country, the total homeless population would fall by at least one third over night.   

Homeless services would then have sufficient funding to move many of the rest of the homeless off the streets into transitional housing with services that bring them back into the working population.   It would be a dream come true.  If only our country would step up to the plate, homelessness in our country would be virtually eliminated.  If only….

Lets Summarize the Homeless Veteran Situation

750,000 total homeless count in U.S
400,000  veterans are homeless per year
200,000 veterans homeless in any one night
1/17 of our U.S. population are veterans but:
1/3 of all homeless are veterans
7688 beds funded by the VA for homeless veterans
192,312 sleeping elsewhere – shelters, grates, creekbeds, back alleys.    We have Heroes sleeping on sidewalks in every big city.

The VA says homelessness is not related to military service, but:

Veterans are 5 times more likely to be homeless than civilians

You may think that homeless veterans served poorly in military, but:

95% of homeless vets have honorable discharges

The VA claims it has the largest network of homeless assistance programs in the country, but:

VA funding is only $1.37 per homeless vet per day
VA funded beds provide for only 1 of every 26 homeless vets
VA funds only 7688 beds for 200,000 homeless veterans on any given night of the year.
 

The mix of homeless veterans has changed in the last 9 years
                  1997             2006
Korea            1o%               4%           
Vietnam         42%              39%
Gulf War         10%              16%

Our Korean veterans are getting old and dying out
Our Gulf War veterans are increasing rapidly
Our Vietnam veterans have the largest homeless rate by far.

Fact:  If our country stepped up to the plate and provided for our homeless veterans,  the homeless population would fall instantly by 33 percent.

To view all the Homeless Veterans Articles, Click Here

VA Allocates $1.37 per Homeless Vet per day.

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!

Oldtimer’s Comment:  Click For All homeless veterans articles

Homeless Bedlam: 25 to the Bed!

Data taken from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.   The following table shows the number of beds funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program in each state compared to the estimated number of homeless veterans reported in each state. This information was taken from the 2005 VA CHALENG Report and tabulated and published by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. 

AK              0              450
AL             42              816
AR             40           1,350
AZ           199           3,637
CA         1,875         49,546
CO           102           3,895
CT           103           4,675
DC             43           2,400
DE             15              500
FL            430          19,394
GA           165           5,715
HI            118             800
IA              56              615
ID              10              350
IL             136           2,243
IN             108          1,300
KS             47              620
KY           115              963
LA           150           10,897
MA          378            1,680
MD          241           3,100
ME              0               120
MI           139           2,910
MN            23              493
MO            82           4,800
MS             60           1,136
MT             17             247
NC           182           1,601
ND              0           1,000
NE             12              460
NH            36              350
NJ           142           6,500
NM           30              902
NV          201            4,600
NY          274          12,700
OH          261          1,898
OK            27             770
OR          159          6,940
PA          332          2,691
RI             23             175
SC           110         1,375
SD            42            165
TN          241         2,500
TX          233       15,434
UT          145           585
VA            86           911
VT            10            20
WA         167         6,567
WI          209           915
WV          41           357
WY          31           111
PR             0            75

TOTAL 7,688    194,254

YES!  You are seeing what you think you are seeing.  Less than 8000 beds for nearly 200,000 veterans.    

Government Standard?   25 Veterans per bed.    

Repeat after Me:  That Ain’t Right!   That Just Ain’t Right!

Our heroes deserve better than that.

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