Tag Archives: Heroes

December 21 – Homeless Memorial Day

December 21 

Homeless Memorial Day

memorial day poster

The date is chosen as the First Day of Winter – The longest Night of the Year

(Find the poster here)

For the homeless, any night can be a nightmare.   Danger aside, Winter is the worst season, any night with rain, sleet or snow is just plain miserable.   Unsheltered homeless die far too often in such conditions.   Our homeless heroes, our veterans die in the cold, sleet and snow too.

According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, homelessness dramatically increases the risk of illness, injury or death.  

Compared to the general population, the homeless :

Are 3 times more likely to die at any given age 

Middle aged men and young women are most at risk

Have a life span 28 years less than national average

Have 6 times the incidence of serious illnesses

Die from illnesses that are easily treated or prevented

Who live in shelters have high risk of communicable diseases

Have a high incidence of death from heart problems or cancer

Risk death on the streets from cold

Have 8 times the risk of dieing from Frostbite 

Too often die on the streets from unprovoked hate crimes

Lack access to quality health care. 

Here is a list of 2222 homeless people and their locations by city that are known deaths in 2006.  There were an estimated 17,500 homeless deaths in the United States last year, meaning that more than 15,000 homeless died virtually unnoticed or at least unidentified in 2006.  (I base that knowing that there are about 735,000 homeless in this country and the homeless die at 3x the rate of 800 deaths per 100,000 of the general population.)

Keep in mind that about 4,600 of those deaths are homeless veterans.  I base that on the knowledge that there are an estimated 195,000 homeless veterans and use the same rates as above.

There is no way to know how close that number is, but whatever it is, it is shameful that our homeless are so very vulnerable to death through the neglect of our system of care.   It is a disgrace to this country that almost 5000 of our heroes die in in the streets and alleys of our country each year.    

So when Homeless Memorial Day comes around, you can also remember the 4600 homeless heroes that did not die on the battlefield of war, but lived to die in the alleys, streets and woods of the country they served, uncared for, helpless and unwanted.  My fault as much as anyone for not speaking up as loudly as I should.    Can’t we all do more? 

Oldtimer

Vital Mission: Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

New Report –

Vital Mission:

Ending Homelessness

Among Veterans

Homeless Veteran

Photo by  |Shrued (creative commons licensed)  Find it Here

This 36 page report released by the National Alliance to End Homelessness details the following highlights:

In 2006, approximately 195,827 veterans were homeless on a given night-an increase of 0.8 percent from 194,254 in 2005. More veterans experience homeless over the course of the year.  They  estimate that 336,627 were homeless in 2006.

Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people. They represent roughly 26 percent of homeless people, but only 11 percent of the civilian population 18 years and older.  (Please see Oldtimer’s comment on these numbers below before you repeat them.) This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed, and have a lower poverty rate than the general population.

A number of states, including Louisiana and California, had high rates of homeless veterans. In addition, the District of Columbia had a high rate of homelessness among veterans with approximately 7.5 percent of veterans experiencing homelessness.

They estimate that in 2005 approximately 44,000 to 64,000 veterans were chronically homeless (i.e., homeless for long periods or repeatedly and with a disability).

Oldtimer’s comment on the numbers:  My own studies show that  the real numbers are more like 43% of the male homeless are veterans. Here is an interesting footnote to the numbers reported above:

This estimate was calculated with 2005 veterans data from the CHALENG data set and 2005 tabulations of Continuum of Care (CoC) point-in-time counts.The CoC counts do not differentiate between adults and children, so in the number provided here-percent of homeless people who are veterans-the denominator includes some people under 18. If children were taken out of the 744,313 total, veterans would make up a larger percentage of the homeless population. This suggests that 26 percent is a conservative estimate. Either way, this estimate falls within the bounds of past research.Rosenheck (1994) reviewed research studies and found that between 29 and 49 percent of homeless men are veterans. HUD’s recent Annual Homelessness Assessment report (2007) puts the percentage of homeless veterans at 18 percent; however, 35 percent of the cases in this data source were missing, making the estimate highly unreliable.

The Rosenheck estimate  range includes the 43% that I had independently found.  The basis data for my findings are here.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has an interactive map that show veteran homelessness by state.  Click on the map to activate it, then your cursor will bring up data for each state as you hover over it.

It is interesting to note that Washington DC has the highest percentage of veterans that are homeless, more than double the rate of any other state at a whopping 7.51%.  Other high percentage states are Louisiana, California, Oregon, Nevada, Connecticut and  North Dakota in that order.   The highest number of homeless veterans are in California with more than 49,000 homeless, followed by New York, Florida and Texas in that order.

The following comes directly from the report:

Lack of affordable housing is the primary driver of homelessness. The 23.4 million U.S. veterans generally do not have trouble affording housing costs; veterans have high rates of home ownership and appear generally well housed. However, there is a subset of veterans who have severe housing cost burden.

■ We estimate that nearly half a million (467,877) veterans were severely rent burdened and were paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent.


■ More than half (55 percent) of veterans with severe housing cost burden fell below the poverty level and 43 percent were receiving foods stamps.

4■ Rhode Island, California, Nevada, and Hawaii were the states with the highest percentage of veterans with severe housing cost burden. The District of Columbia had the highest rate, with 6.4 percent of veterans paying more than 50 percent of their income toward rent.

■ Female veterans, those with a disability, and unmarried or separated veterans were more likely to experience severe housing cost burden. There are also differences by period of service, with those serving during the Korean War and WWII more likely to have severe housing cost burden.

■ We estimate that approximately 89,553 to 467,877 veterans were at risk of homelessness.  At risk is defined as being below the poverty level and paying more than 50 percent of household income on rent. It also includes households with a member who has a disability, a person living alone, and those who are not in the labor force.

However, the report body shows a laundry list of causes:

Lack of Income: Veterans who experience homelessness, like most homeless people, typically have very low incomes, and research suggests that extreme poverty predisposes veterans to homelessness. For this reason, veterans who joined the service after 1973 through the all-volunteer force are more likely to come from poverty and have lower rates of educational attainment.  (…) The unemployment rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 is 15 percent,

Physical Health and Disability: One out of 10 veterans is disabled and many suffer from physical disabilities, oftentimes caused by injuries in combat. (…)  The number of disabled veterans is increasing with more than 20,000 veterans suffering from wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mental Health and Disability: Mental health issues are also prevalent among veterans. The VA reports that 45 percent of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, including many who report high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  (…)

Substance Abuse: According to the Department of Veterans Affairs,  approximately 70 percent of homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse problems (…)

Weak Social Networks: (…) Veterans have low marriage rates and high divorce rates and, currently, one in five veterans is living alone.  (…) Social networks are particularly important forthose who have a crisis or need temporary help. Without this assistance, they are at high risk for homelessness.

Lack of Services to Meet Current Need: The VA has over 19,000 transitional housing beds for homeless veterans (10,000 through partnerships with local community agencies) with 460 FTEE in homeless program staffing.  (Oldtimer’s comment:  19,000 beds to serve over 300,000 veterans that are homeless during at least part of the year of which 44,000 to 64,000 are chronically homeless and 195,000 are homeless on any one night!)

I hope you can sleep well tonight after reading these statistics and findings. I know that I won’t.  I also know the homeless heroes sleeping in the bushes, alleys, behind dumpsters, in doorways, and in the woods or on mountain sides are not going to sleep as well as they could if we could only get our government to respect and support our troops when they come home.

Our Heroes

are out there tonight

and it is so very cold!

Oldtimer

Wounded warriors battle with VA – Story and Videos

Wounded Warriors Battle With VA

I watched a horrifying story on CNN last night.  I missed it on regular programming, checked the programming guide and waited for the midnight repeat.   The CNN title of the story was:

Broken Government: Waging War on the VA

It repeats tonight, Sunday night (Nov 18) at 8 Eastern, so if you get a chance, please check your schedule.   It is a powerful indictment of the VA’s handling of disability claims.  It is the story of 3 wounded veterans trying to get justice and only able to do it by virtually going to war again to fight for their rights.

One of the wounded warriors and a really heartbreaking story was Ty Ziegel, 25 years old who had been severely injured by a suicide bomber, “sent back to the states to die”, but lived.  Despite losing nearly half of his skull and a large portion of his brain, penetrating shrapnel and bone fragments in his brain, with both ears, nose and lips burned off and impossible to replace,  loss of an eye and resulting enormous disfiguration, the VA listed him as having “10% head trauma”.  10% head trauma.  In addition the damage to the left lobe of his brain,  loss of an eye and jaw fracture as haveing 0% trauma.  0% for loss of 1/4 of his brain, loss of an eye? He also lost one arm at the elbow, and two fingers and a thumb from his other hand, plus numerous other injuries for which the bulk of his small disability payment was granted.    Far below the poverty line disability for a man disfigured and totally disabled.

Ty Ziegel before and after

Ty Ziegel, before and after.   CNN News photo

(Click on the picture or here to see the video).  These videos are short promo clips about 2 minutes long and I don’t know how long they will keep them up on their site.  Go to  CNN and see the real thing.  Click here for part 2

Another veteran, Garrett Anderson received a roadside bomb injury that sent shrapanel into his head and body, and he lost an arm while driving a truck in a convoy.  The VA initially rejected his claim, saying that it was “not service connected”.   He was also suffering from what he thought was PTSD.  In Garrett’s case the letter stating that there were “shrapnel wounds all over his body, not service connected” had the signature cut out of the letter with a knife.  Apparently the signer was not proud of his decision and knew it was wrong.  

Garrett Anderson

Garrett Anderson.  Click on the picture or here for the video clip.

In Ziegel’s case, within 48 hours of taping an interview with CNN, the VA changed his disability to 100%.  In Anderson’s case, his wife took a sneak peak at his case file while a nurse was out of he room and she discovered they had  him listed in their files a suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but had failed to tell him or give him any disability credit for it.   He went to Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois who turned up the pressure on the VA and subsequently has been awarded disability for TBI.

The third story was about Tammy Duckworth who lost both legs and had severe injuries to one arm and her body.   She later ran for Congress with the hope of improving things for disabled veterans.  She lost but has been appointed by the Governor of Illinois to be the Director of the IL Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Click here for the CNN news promo clip for her story.  Go to the link with Tammy’s name above and click on “veteran’s issues” to get a flavor of what she has learned about the Va while she was in their care and her run for Congress.

Our wounded warriors, our heroes, should not have to fight for our country, then fight for their life and still have to fight for their benefits!

Oldtimer

 

Women Warriors

U.S. Department of

Veterans Affairs

Seal

 Women Veterans:  Past Present and Future

Revised and Updated

 May 2005

Robert E. Klein, Ph.D.,
Office of the Actuary
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy,
Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning, and Preparedness

I thought we should give some thought on this Veterans Day weekend to our women warriors.   (Download Full 27 Page Document Here)

 The above document has been prepared by the VA and may be of interest to our women warriors and veterans.  All the bold print above and below are copied directly from the VA document.

     “Women are a vital part of the armed forces and the community of veterans. The study of women veterans begins with the history of women in the military and the changing role of women in the military.”

Brief Outline:

Women in the Military: A Historical perspective in Brief

The Population of Women Veterans

Age

Geographic Distribution

Race and Hispanic Origin

Marital Status

Socio-Economic Characteristics

Educational Attainment

Employment

Family Income

Use of VA Benefits

Compensation

Pension 

Educational Benefits, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Employment

VA Home Loan Guarnaty

VA Life Insturance

VA Burial Benefits

Health Care

 

A Final Thought :         “The important role of women in our nation’s defense and as part of the veteran population over the years cannot be over-stated nor covered adequately in these few short pages.  Their history is a glorious one and sadly one not always acknowledged or appreciated.  With time, however, has come deserved recognition, both for women in the military and for women as veterans.  And with their projected larger numbers, with full integration in all branches, including combat units, and with greater racial and ethnic diversity in the armed forces, women will change the face not only of our military, but of our veteran population as well.  Women will make up a larger share of the veteran population, add to its diversity, and require veteran services geared to their specific needs.  The debt owed to all our veterans and to women in particular demands nothing less than full attention and action.”

 The above document may be downloaded here

They are All Heroes

They Are Veterans

Oldtimer
 

VA Stats at a Glance

VA Stats at a Glance

(As of 10-25-07)

VA Stats at a GlanceThe VA publishes what they call  “Stats at a Glance

They don’t say how often it is updated but it likely is monthly.  At least the one I found was updated on 10-25-2007,  just a few days ago.

If so, you can find and track current information on the statistics and demogrphics related to VA Benefits and Health Care Utilization in one easy to read, as they say, at a glance.

I wanted to post the entire paper and not just a thumbnail, but it is posted as a picture and the resolution was not sufficient for easy reading.

Most of the statistics are listed as of 9/30/07.   A few are as of FY 06 and FY 07.  I’m going to list a few of them here.  Click on the link above or on the thumbnail to see the latest data.

Veterans receiving VA Disability Compensation                2.8 million

Veterans rated 100% Disabled                                             249,904

Veterans receiving VA Pensions                                           303,242

 Spouses receiving VA DIC                                                     317,374 

Enrollees in VA Health Care                                                  7.9 million

Unique Patients                                                                       5.5 million

Veterans compensated for PTSD                                         299,672

Health Care Professionals rotating through VA (FYo6)   100,893

Total  number of Veterans                                                  23,532,000

Total Females  (7%)                                                                1,745,000

Number of WWII Veterans that die each day                           1,000

Number of veterans 65 or older (39%)                               9,177,000

By race:  White (non Hispanic)  80%   Hispanic 6%  Black (non Hispanic) 11% Other 4%

Number of VA Employees                                                        254,183

VA Funding   $ 80.2 Billion (not including VHA, VBA, NCA)

——————————————– 

Naturally I want to add a few stats of my own:  

Number of Heroes sleeping on the street every night:  195,000

(also check for similar data here

Number of Heroes homeless during the year (VA estimate)  400,000 

Percentage of all homeless males over 25 that are veterans 43%   (27% of all US males are veterans but 43% of the homeless males over 25 are veterans)

Amount allocated by VA to homeless veterans: $1.37 per day   (cup of coffee anyone?)

Grant money allocated by VA for homeless veterans  33 cents per day (Mints anyone?)

Overview of the homeless veteran problem 

Homeless Veterans are Heroes too!

Oldtimer

 

Veteran’s Day – November 11, 2007

Veterans Day  

  November 11, 2007 

Veteran's Day Poster

Remember and Honor our Heroes!

For they are Heroes Forever

 

 

 

Click Here for More Information on Veterans

Want your own posters for Veterans Day?  Download and print them free.

Good News! Patriot Guard – Mission Accomplished!

Patriot Guard completes work on veteran’s house 

Oct 15, 2007 – 04:01:32 CDT

Mission accomplished! In three months time Bob Thorberg’s Mandan home has gone from a date with the wrecking ball to a little piece of heaven.  Back in June the Mandan city commission had gone as far as to award the demolition contract for Thorberg’s home, deeming the dilapidated structure a health hazard.Patriot Guard working on Living Room Patriot Guard at work in Living Room

Living Room Finished 

Living Room Finished

(North Dakota Patriot Guard photos were not part of the original story) 

 In stepped Rick Colling, upset with the situation surrounding the aging military veteran, he asked for the opportunity to restore the house into a home suitable for habitation. The city commission gave him that chance.  Colling, a member of the North Dakota Patriot Guard, asked the organization for help financially and in manpower. The organization responded with $3,750, which it requested that Colling match. He did far better, with $7,000 in cash donations and $14,300 in materials.

(Oldtimer’s Comment:  The you may have seen the Patriot Guard at work in your community – they are the patriot’s from around the country that show up on motorcycles  at military funerals and guard and honor our fallen heroes). 

Perhaps more importantly were the volunteer hours in doing the work. Colling, himself, has worked tirelessly on the project and has been the driving force, as the number of helping hands varied from day-to-day and dwindled the longer the project took.  “I more or less took a leave of absence from work and have been putting in 10 to 14 hour days, seven days a week,” Colling said. “I knew there was going to be a lot of work; what I didn’t know was how much time I’d have to put in.”

The 49-year-old Colling is originally from Bismarck, having moved to Mandan in 2004. He is self-employed as a life insurance agent.  The house, platted in 1889, was in extremely bad condition, Colling said. It had to be gutted and reconstructed. The exterior was reshingled, got new siding and soffit, windows, and the porch was rebuilt. The yard was cleaned. The furnace, dating back to the early 1900s, was replaced with a new forced central air system.

The hardest part was the deconstruction. More than 120 cubic yards of debris was removed as the plaster and lattice came out.  Colling admitted there were days when he didn’t think it would get done. He set a lot of deadlines along the way and never met one. Except the last one.

“I wanted to be done by the pheasant opener and we are, with the exception of a few odds and ends. Bob’s ready to start moving in,” Colling said. “I wanted to see this finished, and that’s what kept me going.”

A lot of credit goes to Craig Haug, Matt Hartl, Randy Lindberg, Darcy Ritter, Tara Hartl and Susan Beehler, according to Colling. They have been the steadiest volunteers, and the expertise they’ve brought has been invaluable.

“The guys that have stuck with it are those that like to do this kind of work. They take a lot of pride in their work and don’t do anything halfway,” Colling said.

The reconstruction of his home has been an ordeal for Thorberg. Two of his three dogs had to be destroyed and the pup given a new home. Not long after this, early in August, Colling found Thorberg sleeping in his bed in the basement unresponsive and nearly comatose. Thorberg was taken to the hospital and was found to be suffering from a blood-borne infection.

Since his release from the hospital, Thorberg has been staying at the Lewis and Clark Hotel, building his strength and awaiting for the chance to move back into the only home he’s ever known.

“Bob’s wishes are to live here, but I’m not so sure how long that might be,” Colling said.

Colling described Thorberg as a bit of a curmudgeon and not always easy to work around. But Thorberg said he’s extremely appreciative of what’s being done for him.

“It’s heaven,” is how Thorberg described the work done on his house. “There’s still a few things to be done, but we’ll take care of that. There have been a lot of people around helping, but not like Rick. He made this all possible.”

The toughest part of the whole process has been all the moving around he’s had to do, Thorberg said.

“First it was upstairs, then downstairs. Then I had to go to the hospital, and now I’m over at the Lewis and Clark,” Thorberg said. “My health is still a problem, but we’ll get that resolved. I was one sick turkey, and I don’t have my strength yet. It’s going to take time to recover.”

Though the construction work is almost done, Colling and some of the other volunteers won’t just be walking away. Colling said he and a few of the others have become fast friends with Thorberg and intend on keeping in touch and checking up on Bob, likely on a weekly basis.

Colling never served in the military, but said he understands the sacrifices the veterans and their families have made. This project is Colling’s way of trying to repay those veterans for the freedom they’ve protected.

The North Dakota Patriot Guard – 

Heroes helping and   honoring Heroes.

Thank you Rick, Teri, and all those others working on this project.  The Patriot Guard Rides again!!!

Oldtimer
 

Homeless Veteran Hasseled at Truck Stop

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!

Oldtimer

 

 

Too Little – Too Late – 7300 Homeless Veterans, 40 Beds

New Program Aims to Give Homeless

Vets a New Start

A new program aimed at whittling down the 7,300 veterans living on Washington’s streets and in its forests is nearing its start date in South Kitsap.

Forty veterans at a time will participate in a homeless veterans transition program on the Washington Veterans Home campus, where they’ll be supervised, kept busy looking for jobs, and given help with any addiction and mental health problems they may have. The goal is for them to find a job and their own place to live.

Meanwhile, participants will be allowed to stay for up to two years in a 78-year-old brick building that became vacant three years ago when residents moved into a new $47 million skilled nursing facility. They’ll share a room at first, then move into private quarters.

Oldtimer’s Comment:  7,300 homeless, 40 beds every 2 years, shared rooms, ancient building.   Lets do the math   7300/40 = 1 bed per 182 homeless Heroes, served every 2 years.  Ok, a start.  A pitifull one at best.    1 bed per 182 homeless Heroes – gonna be a bit crowded.  “Shared room” has an entirely new meaning. 

The facility, with $500,000 of renovations, is expected to open within the next two months, said Ray Switzer, who was hired by the state Department of Veterans Affairs to get the program up and running.

Me Again:  To be clear, the $47 million skilled nursing facility is a 240 bed Veterans Nursing Home completed in 2005.   I think that is wonderful.  My problem is that we spent $195,000 per bed for those residents but the spending for our Homelees Heroes is only $12,500 per bed.  Our homeless heroes get the short end of every funding allocation there is, in this case,  94 to 1.  What makes a down-and-out veteran worth so much less than another?

“The decision was made that we shouldn’t let this thing fall down,” Switzer said of 36,000-square-foot Building 9. “There are too many veterans out there who need assistance.”

Applicants will be referred from Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals in Seattle and Tacoma and local agencies. Switzer estimates there are 1,500 to 2,000 homeless veterans in Kitsap County.

 So locally, the ratio is about 1 bed for each 50 homeless local veterans.  Lots of men and women Heroes sleeping in the woods tonight, thousands of them.   Winter is coming folks.  

Our Homeless Heroes deserve better treatment than this! 

 What makes a down-and-out veteran worth so much less than another?

 Lack of a a Voice. 

Your Voice. 

Speak up, America!

Oldtimer

 

 

 

Shelters take many vets of Iraq, Afghan wars

Shelters take many vets of Iraq, Afghan wars

Excerpts from a Boston Globe Article By Anna Badkhen,

As more troops return from deployments, social workers and advocates expect the number of the homeless to increase, flooding the nation’s veterans’ shelters, which are already overwhelmed by homeless veterans from other wars.

No one keeps track of how many of the 750,000 troops who have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001 are homeless. 

Peter Dougherty, director of homeless programs for the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, said 300 veterans of these conflicts have asked the agency for help finding shelter in the last 30 months.

“It’s a major problem that’s not going away anytime soon,” said Cheryl Beversdorf, director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans in Washington.  Beversdorf’s agency has helped 1,200 homeless veterans of the current wars.

This reflects only a fraction of the total number of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, said Amy Fairweather, who works with Iraq war veterans at Swords to Plowshares, a private organization based in San Francisco that assists veterans. Last year, her agency’s five shelters in California helped 250 such veterans, she said.

Oldtimer”s comment:  Read the entire article and find out what is really happening to our returning heroes.

VA Announces 33 cent per day Grants for Homeless Vets.

The announcement really says:

VA Announces $24 Million in Grants for Homeless Programs

But I’ve done the math. 

$24,000,000 divided by the 200,000 homeless veterans that the VA claims are homeless is a whopping $120.00 a year per homeless vet.   That’s only 32.8 cents a day per veteran!

Life Saver Candy

VA Allocation per day is 32.8 Cents

Note:  The announcement wording is indented below.

WASHINGTON – Homeless veterans in 37 states will get more assistance, thanks to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) selection of 92 community organizations to receive funds for transitional housing this year. “Only through a dedicated partnership with community and faith-based organizations can we hope to reduce homelessness among veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “These partnerships provide safe, comfortable housing in caring communities for veterans who need a helping hand.”

Ok, correct me if I’m wrong, but we have 50 states right?   And only 37 will get funds for transitional housing?   (Actually 35, since they counted Guam and D.C. as a states).  Hopefully that means the other 15 don’t have any homeless veterans.    92 community organizations in 37 states.   Roughly 2 or 3 communities in each state get aid?   Actually 15 states get nothing, 15 more get only one grant.  A select 20 get the bulk of the money.

Fifty-three organizations will receive $10 million to provide about 1,000 transitional housing beds under VA’s per diem program;

Lets see, that’s $10,000 per bed (average) for traditional housing.   Costs per bed range from $46,613 each in California to only $2,243 in New Jersey per bed for transitional beds.   Is there something wrong with this picture?

Thirty-six groups will receive $12 million for programs for homeless veterans who are seriously mentally, women, including women with children, frail elderly or terminally ill; (sic)

I counted 493 beds for the mentally ill veterans, 81 beds for women, 62 beds for the frail and elderly and 28 beds for the terminally ill in their list of grants.  The allocation is only $4.9 million for the mentally ill veterans. 

I do appreciate the fact that these funds will go to help the most chronically ill and  helpless of our veterans, I really do.   However,  according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) 45%  of homeless veterans experience mental illness problems.  So let’s do the math again.  45% of 200,000 vets is 95,000 veterans.   Divide that into $4.9 million. 

mint candyThat is a whopping $51.58 per year, per mentally ill veteran funding for housing and services.   Whoopee.   Our mentally ill homeless heroes are funded at the rate of 14 cents per day.  And these are funded in only 14 states.   Lets see, they fund only 1 bed per 192 mentally-ill homeless heroes.    Shameful!

Slightly over $1 million to fund 81 beds for women at an average of $13,000 per bed.  But contrast that with some of the grants:    $46, 500 per bed in Sacramento, vs. $3,222 per bed in Tampa.   Wonder what makes a homeless woman in Sacramento 15 times more costly than one in Tampa?  (The same disparity for mentally ill – Sacramento 30K per bed, only 4K in Cocoa, Fla.).   Is someone in Sacramento ripping the vets off?

Taj MahalPup tent

Sacramento homeless bed costs vs. Florida.

Three organizations will receive about $2 million for various technical assistance projects.

1) National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) $800,000.

2) North Carolina Governor’s Institute on Alcohol & Substance Abuse $992,860

 3) Staten Island  Public Resources Inc.  $996,446

Hmmm… These three organizations together are funded more for technical assistance than all the homeless women vets in the country plus all the frail and elderly vets (male and female) plus the terminally ill veterans.   No comment.

The grants are part of VA’s continuing efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans. VA has the largest integrated network of homeless assistance programs in the country. In many cities and rural areas, VA social workers and other clinicians working with community and faith-based partners conduct extensive outreach programs, clinical assessments, medical treatments, alcohol and drug abuse counseling and employment assistance.

That ain’t right folks.   The VA claims to have the largest integrated network, but I don’t believe that.   The VA says it has funded only 400 grants since 1994 in its  Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program per it’s 2006 Homeless Fact Sheet.  That does not include those in this announcement.    Piddling disbusements for our heroes most at risk.

Much work remains to be done, but the partnership effort is making significant progress. Today, it is estimated that fewer than 200,000 veterans may be homeless on an average night, which represents a 20 percent reduction during the past six years.

OK, here is something blatant folks.  They have used the 200,000 figure consistantly for years except when they changed their counting methods about 6 years ago!   There is no real reduction!   The number of Vietnam veterans declined by 23 percent per the US census over the period 2000 to 2005.    We can’t crow over a 20 percent reduction if the reduction is due to our older veterans dying out.  It appears to me that the percent of homeless veterans grew some during the same period.   It looks like a case of spin doctoring on the VA’s part.  The VA is not allocating enough funding for our homeless veterans with a paltry $24 million.   They appear to be waiting for them to die out.  They have allocated 155 grants totaling $283 million for cemetery plots. 

 Some Spending Perspective:

The VA is funding a $113 million grant to California to build a new veteran’s home at a cost of $285,000 a bed, but nationwide, only $24 million for transitional beds averaging only $120 per homeless veteran.   Habitat can build a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with central heat and air for $55,000 each.   They can build over 2000 houses for the amount spent to house just over 600 in multiple occupancy conditions or more than 1000 without volunteers.   But a good politician can get $285K a bed for his district!  Something is wildly wrong.

Our Heroes Deserve

Better Treatment

 

 

This article is only one of more than 50 homeless veteran posts.  In addition there are more than  27 posts on homeless youth .   If you are interested in either of these important topics, please click one of these links.    Please consider adding me to your feed (see link below my picture.)  Thank you for coming by,Oldtimer

The New Homeless

The New Homeless

We see them from time to time on our streets… We hear about the difficulties they face in life. They are America’s homeless. But, did you know, that the man or woman traveling from shelter to shelter could in the past have been serving our country and protecting the freedoms we enjoy? How do they face the future of unknowns?

Find this story on this station
Jerry Brown
News 13 on your side
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

News 13 looks at “The New Homeless”.

Homeless Veteran“Just being a young man…seeing guys disappear…not being confirmed dead,” recalls Patrick Doyle on his days in the Vietnam War. Gulf War Vet John Powell says, “things don’t tend to go the way their planned during war. People get crazy…you end up seeing things you wouldn’t normally see.” Nilsson Riley from most recently in Iraq comments, “one of my best friends got killed…was trying to save his life. My first sergeant got killed.”

United States military veterans. from three different wars. They well know the extreme, emotional experience of serving our country in time of armed conflict. And the uncertainties. And for some, when their tour of duty is over…the return to civilian life isn’t always easy. Obstacles they face are too difficult to overcome. Before they know it, they find themselves walking the streets…without a job and, without a place to call home.

The U-S Department of Veteran’s Affairs says there are approximately 20-thousand homeless vets in the state of Florida. The V-A also says at least 1700 homeless veterans are in the Gulf Coast region from Port St. Joe west to Biloxi, Mississippi. “When I got to the airport I got spit on…called a baby killer. No parade to come back to. That was one of the roughest parts for me,” says Vietnam veteran Patrick Doyle. Homeless since 2003, Doyle says in the years after the war his life only got worse. Doyle says Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is what he deals with every single day. That is also the case for other homeless veterans facing PTSD, along with drug and alcohol addiction. Gulf War homeless vet John Powell says, “that kind of stuff brought me to my knees, losing your wife and my kids…integrity. Nilsson Riley, who served with the U-S Army in Iraq says, “I got a job and had to go on med leave… because the problems and meds from V-A required to take to cope with PTSD.”

Getting Help

But, these veterans in Panama City have found help and at the same time…hope. The Homeless Veterans Emergency Administration is Bay County’s first homeless vet’s program. It is a relatively new facility that serves not only as a temporary shelter, but also a source of helpful assistance. Deborah Hanley is the administrator. She says, “we always pray for them in church…when they are in war. When they come home, we forget about them.”

At this shelter, homeless veterans get the helping hand to put them back on track…information about jobs or medical care. But, in this trying time in life…is the government really offering the help they need? John Powell says, “when we are asked to go and fight and no questions asked if we have issues that are evaluated as having issues that need to be tended to…service related…I think the government should step up.” One place that offers help is the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic.

It is located at the Naval Support Activity Panama City. Dr. William Michels is the director of the clinic. He says, “started six years ago with 3 employees built up to 30 now…each brings something special to offer vets. I am sure the money will be increased to handle this increased demand.” Dr. Michels says one big problem is that the homeless vets and sometimes…veterans in general don’t take advantage of what is offered.

Heroes are out there too

Click for all Homeless Veterans posts

Memorial Day

A Time to Honor

Our Heroes

Arlington

Arlington National Cemetary

Marietta National Cementary Entrance 

 Marietta National Cemetary

Entrance Marietta, Georgia

Rostrum

Rostrum   Marietta

 

Honor All our Troops

Past Present Future

 

Oldtimer  – Click for all Homeless Veteran Posts

Photo Credits:  

Arlington – Wikipedia;

Marietta Entrance & Rostrum – Marietta National Cemetary web site

 

GPD – Grant and Per Diem Program for Homeless Vets

GPD Transitional Housing Program

for Homeless Veterans

The GAO did a study of the Grant and Per Diem Program in 2005 and reported it in late 2006.  The information below came chiefly from that study – a 59 page PDF file.

GPD flowchartThe Grant and Per Diem Program (GPD)–VA’s major transitional housing program for homeless veterans–spent about $67 million in fiscal year 2005. It became VA’s largest program for homeless veterans after fiscal year 2002, when VA began to increase GPD program capacity and phase out national funding for the more costly contracted residential treatment-another of VA’s transitional housing programs. To operate the GPD program at the local level, nonprofit and public agencies compete for grants. The program provides two basic types of grants-capital grants to pay for the buildings that house homeless veterans and per diem grants for the day-to-day operational expenses.

 cup of coffeecup of coffed quote

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                    

Capital grants cover up to 65 percent of housing acquisition, construction, or renovation costs and require that agencies receiving the grants cover the remaining costs through other funding sources. Generally, agencies that have received capital grants are considered for subsequent per diem grants, so that the VA investment can be realized and the buildings can provide operational beds.

Per diem grants support the operations of about 300 GPD providers nationwide. The per diem grants pay a fixed dollar amount for each day an authorized bed is occupied by an eligible veteran up to the maximum number of beds allowed by the grant. Generally under this grant, VA does not pay for empty beds.

VA makes payments after an agency has housed the veteran, on a cost reimbursement basis, and the agency may use the payments to offset operating costs, such as staff salaries and utilities.  By law, the per diem reimbursement cannot exceed a fixed rate, which was $29.31 per person per day in 2006.  Reimbursement may be lower for providers receiving funds for the same purpose from other sources.

On a limited basis, special needs grants are available to cover the additional costs of serving women, frail elderly, terminally ill, or chronically mentally ill veterans. Although the primary focus of the GPD program is housing, grants may also be used for transport or to operate daytime service centers that do not provide overnight accommodations. 

 According to VA, in fiscal year 2005, GPD grants supported about 75 vans that were used to conduct outreach and transport homeless veterans to medical and other appointments. Also, 23 service centers were operating with GPD support.

Barracks Style Bunk BedsMost GPD providers have 50 or fewer beds available for homeless veterans, with the majority of providers having 25 or fewer.  Accommodations vary and may range from rooms in multistory buildings in the inner city to rooms in detached homes in suburban residential neighborhoods. Veterans may sleep in barracks-style bunk beds in a room shared by several other participants or may have their own rooms.

In fiscal year 2005, VA had the capacity to house about 8,000 veterans on any given night. However, over the course of the year, because some veterans completed the program in a matter of months and others left before completion, VA was able to admit about 16,600 veterans into the program. 

Homeless vets per yearOldtimer’s Comments:  The GAO found that the VA’s GPD program was the VA’s largest homeless program beginning in 2005, spending $67 million on 194,000 veterans, a whopping 94 cents a day per homeless veteran – you can’t buy a vet a cup of coffee for that.   It assigned a van to outreach more than 2500 homeless vets per van.   It provided support to 23 service centers with an average of 25  or fewer beds, something like 600 beds total while in actuality much of the money went to vans and administrative costs, so the figure per vet is quite low. 

The curious thing about the chart above, provided by the GAO, is the sudden disconnect between 2003 and 2004.   A sudden loss of 121,000 homeless vets in one year!  The VA says it “improved its counting methods,” now relying on the Continuum of Care program under HUD.   The CoC program is a count of all homeless.  Unfortunately, there is no consistent query relating to veterans in their survey.   There is no consistant directive requiring VA centers to use a particular counting method.  The GAO says that, “in 2005, more than twice as many local VA officials used HUD counts as was the case in 2003.”  That indicates some do and some don’t.   No one knows within tens of thousands how many homeless veterans there are.

Considering The VA has capacity to house 8000 veterans on any given night in 2005, the other 186,000 homeless veterans on those same nights had to fend for themselves.  Considering that 8000 beds times $29.31 per night means the VA should have spent $85 million on the bedded veterans over a year’s time, but could not as they only had $67 million to spend, much of which went to the vans and overhead.  Obviously there were considerable empty beds during the year due to underfunding or inefficient turnover in available beds.

More on this report later.

Oldtimer

Click here for all homeless veteran posts 

Stand Down – Faith Hope Love Charity

I received an invitation from Stand Down FHLC, Inc. that I would like to pass on to you.

their logoStand Down FHLC, Inc operates out of Palm Springs, Florida.   It was founded in 1994 and opened its doors in 2000.  

Stand Down FHLC  is a multi tiered program that assists & supports male veterans who are struggling with addiction & have become homeless as a result of that struggle.   More than 800 veterans have received support from their program.

It operates a 15 bed facility dedicated to homeless veterans and provides 30 – 60 days of residence, food, treatment by staff psychologists, and transportation to the nearest VAMC for substance abuse, medical, and dental treatment.
waving flag gif

  Here is their invitation:

Hold the Date:  

Saturday November 10, 2007

Faith*Hope*Love*Charity, Inc.

presents its first Preeminent

“Take Flight Award Banquet”

 Honoring our Military (Past & Present) 

Crown Plaza – West Palm Beach

1601 Belvedere Road

West Palm Beach, FL 33406  

Meet and Greet Distinguished & Celebrity Guests

 Incredible Silent Auction

Exquisite cuisine

Fantastic Entertainment

Contact Dr. Crockett Or Ms. Rainford

For Additional Information

(561) 968-1612 ext. 13/10  or at Ccrockett@standown.org. 

This is how you minister to Heroes

Click for All homeless Veteran Posts