Tag Archives: VFW

Tables Turned – Homeless hater now Homeless

I find this story very interesting.  A woman with a beach-front duplex near the Ulehawa Beach park in Hawaii  was fed up with the homeless encampment across the road from her.   Marianne Beaman  had lived there for 9 years. 

“I was mad about it, believe me,” she said. “All this noise … and all the drugs and alcohol at either end of the park.”

Today, she resides in that encampment, in a tent less than 50 yards from the duplex she and her husband, Bert, rented for nine years.

“I lived right there in that very house,” she said, pointing to the beachfront property. “We made the hop from right there to right here. We’ve seen it from both sides.”

Now the city is closing the park for a week beginning February 10, 2008, so that it can evict the homeless permanently from the park.    Now Marianne is concerned about losing yet another place to live.  Yet another systematic homeless eviction process by another city with no place to send the displaced.   The Beamans had never been homeless before their landlord decided to convert their duplex unit into a vacation rental a while back. Six months ago, the couple and their two dogs began an anxious and reluctant occupation of Nani Kai Beach.

“At first we said, ‘We’re not going to move to the beach, we’re going to find a place to live,’ ” Marianne Beaman said. “My husband works. I’m on Social Security. But, we could not find a place we could afford. We don’t have any relatives here we can live with. So, finally we used our savings to build a shelter that would protect us from the weather.

“Now, we don’t have any idea where we’re supposed to go.”

Hopefully this will never happen to any of our Marietta city leaders nor to any of our readers.  But it does happen to tens of thousands of people nearly every month that never had a clue that it could happen to them.   It has happened to perhaps thousands of people in our small city, considering that the homed/homeless situation has considerable turnover in their makeup.  For every homeless person, there are likely 8 to 10 that have gone before them.  

The program director of MUST Ministries has said he thinks there are as many as 1000 homeless men and women unsheltered in Cobb County Georgia at this very moment. 

The last homeless count I’m aware of found only 330 unsheltered in January 2006.  The truth may lie somewhere between as it a simple fact that there is no way a small group of housed volunteers can find a homeless man in the woods if he is not interested in being found.  And none of them are.   We know of about 150 that are fed breakfast on Sunday mornings in one small area of Marietta.   This is an area that is sparsely populated by the homeless because the camping areas are almost non existent compared to south of the city and in the county.

MUST and their free lunch program is a draw to be sure, but the fact is, only a very few of the city’s homeless live near there for lack of cover.  It is an industrial and business area with crisscrossing roads and very few areas with trees and shrubs to hide campsites. 

Someone once said  that we all, each and every one of us are at most only two tragedies from homelessness.   It could be a family illness coupled with a job loss or any number of similar situations, including fire, earthquake, storm, abandonment, death of loved one, mental illness, service in war, or simply a landlord deciding to use his property in a different manner as the Beamans found out.   Also we all know that foreclosure is forcing hundreds of thousands out of their homes.   Couple that with another unfortunate event and many of these will be homeless.  Unexpectedly and unwillingly homeless through no fault of their own.  

Combinations of these unexpected events can push almost anyone into homelessness at any time.   Not drugs, not alcohol, not laziness, not gambling, not any of those things.  Think about it.  Many of the homeless in the woods near your neighborhood are just plain people like yourself that have hit a couple of speed bumps in their life too many. 

Repeat after me:  “There but for the Grace of God, go I”.  Say it 3 times.

But then, what does Marietta Care?   If you have read any of the 6 or 7 previous posts, the answer is that the City That Doesn’t Care cares nothing about the homeless!  They have sent the Storm Troupers to roust them out and dump their life support systems into the garbage trucks. 

In the dead of winter.  On the eave of the two coldest nights of the year.  Even with snow on the ground.  Without their blankets, without their tents, without their backpacks, even some without their shoes.   Yes, even the mentally ill who have no idea what is happening have been run over.    Jack-Legged Storm Troupers?  Maybe not quite that bad, but the homeless say it was not too far from it.  Heartless, certain.   Some of our police did not like the action taken, but each and every one knows they must do their duty.   When the Mayor says go, when the Council says clean them out… no choice.  None indeed.  Even our veterans, our homeless heroes.  Out.  Out. Out!  You left some trash.  You made somebody’s employee nervous when she saw you standing under a bridge the other day.  Out!  

This is the same shamefull city counsil that refused the VFW the right to give out flags alongside their float on Veteran’s day while the Mayor rode up front in grand style!  Now our homeless veteran friends clearly understand how Marietta supports our troups.  Particularly those in need.  Al, Perry OUT!  Take your flags with you!

So says Marietta, The City That Doesn’t Care!

Oldtimer

Marietta Georgia – No compassion for homeless – NONE

The City of Marietta is evicting homeless from within our city limits.  Al, our homeless veteran friend that our church is trying its best to help reports that he and his friends, which are mostly homeless veterans, have been given notice to move “south”, meaning out of Marietta and toward Atlanta.

We have been helping Al and some of his friends in numerous ways.  Pat (see an earlier story on Pat here and her husband Scott and a few others in our church have been serving breakfast Sunday Mornings and later bringing some to our church for bible study and services, often treating them to lunch afterward.  Scott put Al in a hotel during the cold snap and the group has been taking supplies and clothing to them. 

Al has been faithful in attending, and as a result has taken to the idea that he can get out of this.  He no longer looks homeless, is neat, trimmed and dressed in his best clothes.  However, despite the information, forms, trips to the VA, Al still has not received his papers or his VA card.  He is still homeless.  He has said he has now committed to getting off the streets but has no place to go.

Above is one of the homeless camps being evicted by the City of Marietta.  This is an old photo taken from the air, but it also the site of Als current camp.   Believe it or not, this was found by use of the Hit and Visitor Map to the right of this blog.  It has zoom and several modes, including hybrid (satellite and road labeling), airborne, and “bird’s eye”.  I used the hybrid mode in zoom to find the general area, then switched to bird’s eye and quickly found his camp and 2 other camps.   Try it in your area (bird’s eye is not available in all areas, mostly metropolitan areas around large cities like Atlanta).  Look for blue tarps in mostly wooded areas.  Let me know if you find any. 

Now comes the City of Marietta.  They have systematically attacked the homeless camps within their city and have now worked their way to Als camp.  They did give them a little prior notice.  They were told that they are trespassing (wooded right of way of city) have to be packed up and moved out by Monday.  

Guess What?  Its snowing in Georgia.  The ground is covered.  A few will accept winter shelter but the beds are full.   They are totally dependent on MUST ministries a few blocks from their camp for food which MUST serves once a day on weekdays.   Nothing on weekends.

Moving means a miles long treck instead of a block or so walk.   The plan is obvious, make the homeless either seek shelter or get out.  Unfortunatly there are not enough beds to go around.  Not nearly enough.  So the plan is equally obvious – get out of our city

The city should provide facilities for these homeless before making them move.  They don’t.  They depend on MUST Ministries and a few other shelters that they have forced into industrial zones and have for the most part squelched expansion of facilities.  

Our city has decided to take the cheaper route – run them out of our city before they cost us money!  It also has another up side for the city:  Next year the homeless count will show another “remarkable” drop and no one will have to cook the books by redefining the homeless or unfinding any.  

Al works when he can find a job.  He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, has no noticeable mental problems.  He is a true walking hero with no place to go and our VA is not doing its duty.  Nor the VFW, nor our heartless City of Marietta.   He has fallen through the cracks and it makes me want to cry.

MUST Ministries, a block away from Al, serves Al a noon meal every week day. and  recently announced receiving grant money to set up transitional housing for veterans.   I’m sure they are hearing of the problem, but its been most of a week now since I left a message there for the program manager and sent a email inquiring about the program.  No response to the email and no returned call, and I know the guy, so he must be “out of pocket”.    MUST does do a wonderful job of helping feed and house the homeless and works tirelessly to serve them. 

Another mission, New Hope Missions reports that they are being swamped with homeless in the same desperate condition as Al.  New Hope serves about 125 breakfast and conducts services on Sunday and about half come from the area being evicted.  Some of them have to be out Wednesday.  Al has to be out Monday.

This is how not to minister to the homeless 

City of Marietta GA:  Shame!

Oldtimer

“Houseless and Homeless Not Same Thing”

Houseless and Homeless Same?  Not exactly. 

Many think so, but they are different and overlap.   Many think that if you have a roof over your head – housed that is (shelter, rooming house, somebody’s couch) then you are not homeless.   They think you are homeless only if you live outside, on the streets.  They are wrong. 

If you don’t get the difference, think about it until you do.  Read the words of the homeless veteran below and see if anything clicks.   The old saying, “home  is where the heart is” is quite valid and true.  Just because a homeless person is in shelter or sleeping on a friend’s couch, or living in a cheap motel, doesn’t mean he or she is not still homeless. 

They may be housed and homeless at the same time.  This is a big issue and a terribly sore spot with the homeless.  To them there is a world of difference; almost fighting words!   There are homeless veterans and houseless veterans, two different levels of homeless, but don’t say that someone housed cannot be homeless.  The houseless veteran is one that sleeps in a doorway or back alley or along some creek bank somewhere.   The homeless veteran covers that and also the housed that cannot make a home out of their accomidations.

Definition

From Wikipedia:  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines the term “homeless” or “homeless individual or homeless person” as — (1) an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and (2) an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is: A) supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodations for human beings.

Definition 1) covers the unhoused homeless and 2) covers the housed homeless.  There are others, including those living in cars, campers, paid motel rooms/flop houses, rooming houses, bus terminals, transit cars, and couch surfing that kind of blur whether they are covered at all or included in C). 

Most homeless census counts do not count the homeless that are able to score time in a motel or hotel as homeless, although usually they get that brief stay for only a few days or a week.  Most homeless census counts also do not count homeless in transit (those at bus or train stations or actually in transit), even though some live in the metro transit systems for years.   The result is an undercount. 

 Comment from a Homeless Vet in Ohio on homeless and houseless:

From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: homeless
One entry found for homeless.
Function: adjective
: having no home or permanent place of residence
– home·less·ness noun

 “Today, my mother and I had the “homeless” conversation for the first time ever. It was terribly brief. I had mentioned having spent the last year as a homeless veteran. She said that I have never been homeless — I was staying with [my last host] until I moved into her house.  I told her that being homeless and being houseless are not the same thing.  She said she didn’t have time to discuss it and walked away.

“Yes, there was a roof over my head and there is still a roof over my head at her house; however, it was crystal clear from the moment I was told that I could move in — both places — that I was allowed to stay for a while, transient, short term, not permanent or anything close to it. I was permitted a temporary stay in someone else’s home, permitted to “make myself at home”, but never permitted to make the home my home.

“It was clear from day one — this is temporary, it had better not last very long, or a day will arrive when my belongings are moved out for me.  My last host placed them safely covered and well hidden (from the road) on his front porch. “

(Oldtimer’s note, he was recently moved out – van loaded up and transported elsewhere by his parents – wore out his welcome – their home was not his home and he was homeless even there – housed homeless in his parent’s home.)

Maybe some people really do have to be homeless for a while to understand that houseless and homeless are not the same thing. “Houseless” and “homeless” frequently overlap, but they are not interchangeable synonyms, not at all.  No, my mother really has zero clue what spending a year without a place where I was welcome to stay permanently has done to my psyche.  “Coming back” from this might be a little easier if my family had the slightest clue where I “went”.  Yeah, I think it is going to take me a while.”

Elsewhere in his blog he says this: “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 .

He has an interesting blog.  Go visit.

Click here for All Homeless Veteran Articles

Homeless Veterans – Facts By the Numbers

Published Statistics Vary Greatly 

I’ve seen a lot of statistics that vary from source to source all over the place.  Most of them not referencing their source, many of them not being specific on the definitions or the exact group being cited.  I’m going to attempt to put down some numbers that come from trusted sites and clarify the statistics as best I can.    Links are to sources.  We will try to make sense of these numbers in a later post – stay tuned.

The total population of the United States: 

As of May 19, 2007: 301,875,007.  Source US Census Population Clock.  If the number above doesn’t agree it is because we have a net gain of one person every 11 seconds.  

By Census Bureau sex and age, 49% are male, 51% female, 74.6% (225,200) are 18 or older, 48% (114,900,000) male over 18, 52% female over 18.   The total male population over 25 is 92,800,000 men.

The total population of veterans:

 (Includes Peacetime Veterans): 26,403,000, of which 24,810,000 are men and 1,593,000 are women as of census 2000. 

The total population of wartime veterans:  

(Wartime Only):  19,157,000 of which  18,073,000 are men and 1,084,000 are women as of 2004.   

Veterans under age 25:   0.8% (153,000) are men and 0.3% (58,000) are women.

Total estimated spending for veterans:

 (Dollars in 2004):  $62.0 Billion for 2004 ($234 per veteran).

Where veterans Served:

By Service 2002 :  WWII 4,762,000;   Korean 3,733,000; Vietnam 8,293,000; Persian Gulf War 3,573,000;  Peacetime 6,461,000.  

Homeless veterans:

There are 200,000 homeless veterans on any one day, up to 400,000 during any year; 97% of the homeless veterans (194,000) are male, and 3% (6,000) female on any one day.  These are the VA’s best estimates.  No one is really counting.  56% (112,000) are African American or Hispanic.  

Of these 45% (86,000) suffer from mental illness and (with considerable overlap) 73% (146,000) suffer from alcohol and substance abuse. 

Total US homeless population:  

2005 Estimate:  Approximately 744,313 people homeless on a single night.  This includes 56% in shelters, 44% unsheltered; 59% single adults, 41% in families (98,452 families counted); 23% chronically homeless (171,200 disabled and long term or repeatedly homeless ).   The 172,000 chronically homeless use up 50% of the services. 

Of the total homeless population, 66 % (491,000) are males;   93% (456,700) of homeless males are 25 or older;  41% (201,000) of the males are employed as compared to 27% (68,300) of females.

Calculated Results: 

43% of homeless males 25 and older are veterans.   How do I arrive at that value?   The number of homeless males 25 and over is 456,700 and the number of homeless male veterans is 194,000.   I beleive this is as valid as the counts that make up the data.   There are less than 1% veterans under 25 and about 0.3% homeless women veterans.      

27% of all males over 25 are veterans but 43% of all homeless males are veterans.   There is a disconnect here, the percentages should be about the same.   This 27% calculation uses 24,910,000 male veterans 25 and over and 92,823,000 US males 25 and over.    

Stay tuned – work in progress – this post will be updated and a new post will massage and chart these numbers

Click for All Homeless Veterans Articles

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

Injured Troops Struggle to Get Health Care

Injured Troops Struggle to Get Health Care

Well, this isn’t a homeless veteran’s story, but it could be for the reasons illustrated here, so I’m adding it to that series anyway.  The problems illustrated in this report on the National Public Radio (NPR) caught my eye.  Our injured troops, our returning heroes, are not being treated right and many of them end up homeless just because of what seems to be an arbitrary system of handing out disability rankings.   

I know the people that work and serve to doctor and care for our toops care about the injured.   But there is a bureaucratic snafu when people are severly injured and sometime mentally disabled  but denied their claims unfairly and then the VA has such a backlog they can’t handle the flood of troops coming to them.  Our Heroes are just not being treated right!

Comment: The following story was broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR) there is a link at the bottom for the audio and for the rest of the story.  Everything below except for my comment was written by by Joseph Shapiro.

Photo by Eamon Coyne

Tim Ngo (center) suffered a serious head injury while serving in Iraq.
The military recognizes him as only “10 percent” disabled, which makes
him ineligible for continued military health care.
Above, Ngo stands with his girlfriend, Ani Cerghizan (left),
and his mother, Hong Wyberg.

    “I don’t fully think they were prepared for the length of time this war is going to last. They had no idea of how many injuries or the type of injuries that were going to come out of this.” Hong Wyberg, Mother of Tim Ngo, who sustained a serious head injury in Iraq.
    “It’s counterintuitive. Why are the number of disability retirees shrinking during wartime?” Mark Parker, Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel

When service members are forced to leave the military by war injuries or illness, they face a complex system for getting health and disability benefits. Sometimes, health care gets cut off when new veterans find they need it most. Some retired soldiers and their families say they are worried that the Pentagon won’t spend enough money to give the injured the care they deserve.

’10 Percent Disabled’

Tim Ngo almost died in a grenade attack in Iraq. He sustained a serious head injury; surgeons had to cut out part of his skull. At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., he learned to walk and talk again. When he got back home to Minnesota, he wore a white plastic helmet to protect the thinned-out patches of his skull. People on the street snickered, so Ngo’s mother took a black marker and wrote on the helmet: U.S. ARMY, BACK FROM IRAQ. On this much, everyone agrees.

But here is the part that is in dispute: The Army says Tim Ngo is only 10 percent disabled. “I was hoping I would get at least 50 or 60 or 70 percent,” Ngo says. “But they said, ‘Yeah, you’re only going to get 10 percent’… And I was pretty outraged.”

When a service member is retired for medical reasons, the military’s disability rating makes a difference. If Ngo had been rated 30 percent disabled or higher, he would have gotten a monthly disability check instead of a small severance check. He also would have stayed in the military’s health-care system. Instead, Ngo enrolled with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Typically, there’s a waiting period for the VA.

Comment: This sounds like a cop-out for the VA. A way to save money at the expense of our returning heroes.

In October, while he was uninsured, Ngo had a seizure, caused by his war injury. He remembers being outside and blacking out; he fell to the ground on the driveway. “My girlfriend was freaking out because she didn’t know what to do,” Ngo says. “She didn’t know if I was going to die because I had hit the wrong side of my head.” An ambulance took Ngo to the nearest emergency room for treatment. It cost him $10,000. Ngo says that today, the bills for the incident are still unresolved.

Read the rest of this story here