Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Homeless Soldier
April 24, 2004 5:42 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, Iraq. Today, homeless in the Bronx. Welcome back, soldier, and god bless America.
posted by PrinceValium (117 comments total)

 
There are an awful lot of unexplained details in this story.
posted by JanetLand at 6:06 AM on April 24, 2004


I agree Janetland
posted by Witty at 6:30 AM on April 24, 2004


{with a capital L}
posted by Witty at 6:31 AM on April 24, 2004


Hint: It's a NYT article. No surprise.
posted by hama7 at 6:32 AM on April 24, 2004


what's unexplained? She joined the army to get away from strained relationship with her mother, got pregnant with another soldier, came home to give birth, continued her service, returned home to much older baby, and now has no home.
posted by dabitch at 6:39 AM on April 24, 2004


That's an awful lot of cynicism in the post's description and the article. Reading it, it seems like the best thing that could happen here is that she makes up with her mom and moves back in, at least for a month or two to find new work. It sounds a bit crowded, but I've lived in similarly crowded places. For that matter, she could just get out of town - what's the draw of living in NYC? If your relatives won't let you move in with them when you're homeless, presumably it's not to be near family. $250 a week will go a whole lot farther in any number of other places. If you move into a town that isn't so overwhelmed with people in even worse situations, there will be churches and city angencies that will bend over backwards to get you clothes, food and employment.

For that matter, why doesn't the article say if she left the army voluntarily or involuntarily? If she opted not to reenlist, perhaps the lesson learned is not to quit your job without another lined up.
posted by mragreeable at 6:39 AM on April 24, 2004


I extend to you all my sicerest apologies for opening two sentences with "for that matter" in the previous post.
posted by mragreeable at 6:42 AM on April 24, 2004


Ms. Goodwin appears to be tough enough to handle this situation. Veterans Affairs did appear to make a good-faith attempt to deal with the NYC bureaucracy. The particular services in question are clearly broken. This isn't news to New Yorkers, and the problem has been festering for a couple of decades at least.

So yeah, there's a slant. The slant is, who will the Dept. of Homeless Services fail next? It's just using a glaring example; a perfectly responsible person caught in a bad circumstance. This is less about politics than a systemic failure to deal with homeless people in a rational, empathetic manner.
posted by attackthetaxi at 6:57 AM on April 24, 2004


...a perfectly responsible person caught in a bad circumstance.

I wouldn't go as far as "perfectly". She did, afterall, give birth to a child out of wedlock and it doesn't sound like the baby-daddy is doing much of anything to help. So that would be irresponsible behavior on her part. It has certainly complicated her situation. And like mragreeable said, we don't know why she isn't in the military anymore.

Cut her some slack, sure. Remove all blame from her feet, no way.
posted by Witty at 7:16 AM on April 24, 2004


And like mragreeable said, we don't know why she isn't in the military anymore.

Oh yeah, Iraq sounds much better...
posted by Space Coyote at 7:19 AM on April 24, 2004


Hmm... both of my brother-in-laws are in the military and aren't in Iraq. The point is, we don't know why she was discharged. Did she quit?
posted by Witty at 7:27 AM on April 24, 2004


Before the staff at the medical center could help Ms. Goodwin further, Mr. Connell said, she had to leave "because her pass was running out." But someone in Veterans Affairs managed to call her cellphone and refer her to the Coalition for the Homeless for legal help.

Cry me a river.
posted by angry modem at 7:31 AM on April 24, 2004


The Coalition will get her somewhere to live, thankfully...but don't forget that with a 1-year-old, and no room in city day care centers, getting work and childcare will be almost impossible. She's in for a rough time, even with a roof over her head.

The point is, we don't know why she was discharged. Did she quit?
She finished her tour of duty, no? She had a baby that she wasn't with.
posted by amberglow at 7:38 AM on April 24, 2004


angry modem, having a cellphone is not a useful guide for determining whether or not Goodwin is in need of housing at any given point. You could be out in the street in a moment. In this case, a cellphone is actually a far more useful device than most people normally use them for. So good on her.
posted by attackthetaxi at 7:41 AM on April 24, 2004


LO, the kindly hand of the NYT reaches down from on high to uplift this woman with publicity.

She'll probably do OK now. But it's all of the homeless population, minus her, who we should be concerned with - including all the remaining homeless Vietnam War, Gulf War 1, and - now - Gulf War 2 vets.
posted by troutfishing at 7:42 AM on April 24, 2004


And like mragreeable said, we don't know why she isn't in the military anymore.

Oh yeah, Iraq sounds much better...


That may be a very reasonable objection, but we just can't say. Would they have sent her back to Iraq? It seems like she spent a long time in Germany as well. If a single mother (with the father a fellow soldier, no less) asked for a trip to CA to pick up her baby, and then duty in a combat-free place, it's a big request but I've seen COs grant far more unreasonable requests.

As far as keeping her child while serving, military day care is great. Benefits are one thing that the US military is very generous with.

But, like JanetLand said, we don't know details like that. It's one of about 30 seemingly important facts conspicuously left out of this article. This could be a great case to illustrate a deep flaw in some system, or a case of a person making some dumb decisions. (Or likely both.) What is wrong with this reporter that he won't give us enough information to determine that?
posted by mragreeable at 7:42 AM on April 24, 2004


I don't understand what one has to do with the other. With or without her service in Iraq, she'd still not get along with her mother, still be poor in the Bronx, and possibly still have a bastard baby.

This article is a an exercise in non-sequitir.
posted by pieoverdone at 7:44 AM on April 24, 2004


mragreeable - What? You ungrateful wretch! You expect, from the NYT, journalistic standards?

just kidding
posted by troutfishing at 7:46 AM on April 24, 2004


Some facts from the article for those that seemed either to have missed them or skipped reading it altogether: she returned to New York because her three year tour of duty was completed. She has a two year old daughter that was temporarily lodged with friends, so she chose not re-enlist. Our colleagues from the more conservative side of MeFi appear to be confused about this simple fact. Why do you have to assume there's something nefarious about her return to the United States?

However, she is just like thousands and thousands of other women: unemployed, homeless and the mother of a small child. It's disingenuous to imply that she's somehow special or different than those other women simply because her last known employment was with the American military in a theater of war. We don't have a draft, remember? She chose to sign up and she chose not to re-up when her tour was over. She obviously knew the transition to civilian life was not going to be easy, but certainly doesn't come across like she's "playing the victim" in that article.

(angry modem, don't be an idiot. A cellphone is no longer the outrageous executive luxury you seem to be implying it is. A woman alone with a three year old on the streets of New York... A cellphone is probably the most useful tool she could be spending what little money she has on. It allows her to call for help when she needs it, people who can assist her have a way to contact her... The article doesn't say she's desitute, it says she's doesn't have a job and she doesn't have a place to live. The army does pay you, you know - as well as feed, clothe and transport you - so how can you assume that she didn't bank at least some portion of that?)
posted by JollyWanker at 7:46 AM on April 24, 2004


Taking back my trollish comment, I still think that the story portrays her in a 'woe is me light' and that almost always the person being viewed as helpless isn't helping themselves as much as they should. Why is she still in the Bronx if she can't get housing there? There's all sorts of questions to ask.

And I second pieoverdone's non-sequitir bit.
posted by angry modem at 7:46 AM on April 24, 2004


pieoverdone - I think the underlying idea is that, since she served her country in a war, she deserves a bit better from her country.

Some might disagree, but I don't . Whatever happened to programs that support vets such as the famous GI Bill ? Have Americans decided that vets don't deserve rewards for their sacrifices (and a chance to improve their economic lot) - such as college educations ?
posted by troutfishing at 7:51 AM on April 24, 2004


Maybe I missed something here, but what about the father? The article claims she got pregnant by another soldier. Does he pay child support? If not, she can petition the army to make him.

I also second troutfishing's comments.
posted by sierray at 7:58 AM on April 24, 2004


With or without her service in Iraq, she'd still not get along with her mother, still be poor in the Bronx, and possibly still have a bastard baby.

Bullshit. You know this for fact, huh? You aren't living her life.
posted by attackthetaxi at 7:59 AM on April 24, 2004


Also, I think that there's a LOT in this story that a few condoms could have prevented
posted by pieoverdone at 8:01 AM on April 24, 2004


She finished her tour of duty, no?

She may have... probably did, yes. But that doesn't mean she has to leave the military all together. That's why it would be nice to know all the details there.

...so she chose not re-enlist.

Oh, she did?

...such as the famous GI Bill.

Well, I certainly don't know the specifics, but you have to meet certain requirements to benefit from the GI Bill. She may not have met them... got out too early, whatever.
posted by Witty at 8:05 AM on April 24, 2004



Oh, she did?


The article didn't also explicitally say that she isn't a secret agent for the governmetn of Potsylvania, so there are a lot of unanswered questions, right?

Right...
posted by Space Coyote at 8:12 AM on April 24, 2004


I like the way it HAS to be the veterans fault, because services for the homeless in NYC could NEVER do anything wrong. It's not like they tried opening up homeless shelters in prisons or anything.

I'd also like to point out that the real bastard here seems to be the father, who prefers galavanting across the globe to taking responsibility for his actions.
posted by Ptrin at 8:22 AM on April 24, 2004


Also, I think that there's a LOT in this story that a few condoms could have prevented

Oh hell, why not go for compulsory licensing for childbirth of the bottom quartile demographic and be done with it?

Your comment comes across as sanctimonious, presumptuous and downright rude. Who are you to stand in judgement over the validity of someone's decision to bring a life into the world?
posted by dmt at 8:26 AM on April 24, 2004


If you are young and reasonably bright and black you can flip burgers for McDonald. Or, alternatively, get a piece of socialism--housing,clothing, med care etc--by joing the army. A middle class person would get an abortion. Moving from NY to where and to do what? Yes. She completed her service. We have how many young people serving in how many countries all over the world? I guess you can not be gay and let this out and you cannot leave even with a baby to reenter civilian life. If she had a husband, she could I think get quarters for herself, baby and husband. I don't believe the military supplies this for a single woman and her baby. But I am not sure about this.
posted by Postroad at 8:27 AM on April 24, 2004


mragreeable, witty: from the second paragraph of the story:

And tucked away somewhere are the documents attesting to Ms. Goodwin's recent honorable discharge from the United States Army

And I agree with sierray that the father should be in this picture, at least providing child support.
posted by Daddio at 8:38 AM on April 24, 2004


I don't believe the military supplies this for a single woman and her baby. But I am not sure about this.

I'd like to hear more about this too...If the baby was a result of a relationship (or drunken encounter, even) with another soldier, what happens in the service? What are the procedures or support or services available? What happens?
posted by amberglow at 8:41 AM on April 24, 2004


"She did, afterall,(sic) give birth to a child out of wedlock and it doesn't sound like the baby-daddy is doing much of anything to help. So that would be irresponsible behavior on her part."

I can't see how the father's refusal to pay child support constitutes irresponsibility on her part.
posted by spazzm at 8:43 AM on April 24, 2004


A relationship with another soldier ended after she became pregnant. There, now you know where the father is, he bailed when she got knocked up. Abortion might not have been a choice she wanted to make - so she had the baby and returned to duty before being honorably discharged. Any other questions here?
posted by dabitch at 8:49 AM on April 24, 2004


I don't remember a lot of the details, but years ago a co-workers daughter had a relationship (to use the NYT phraseology) with an Air Force guy and got pregnant. She never married the guy, but the Air Force deducted money for child support from his paycheck and sent it to her for a couple years, until she married someone else.

Unless Ms. Goodwin's baby-daddy is no longer in the military, it seems like she should be receiving some guaranteed assistance from him. (He should be assisting her nevertheless, of course.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:59 AM on April 24, 2004


Military Women Prevented from Having Abortions Overseas

Rep. Loretta Sanchez grew more and more incensed as she read aloud from a letter sent to her by a woman serving in the U.S. Army. The soldier wrote that her birth-control failed her and she became pregnant. To preserve her military career, she decided to have an abortion.
But she was stationed in Germany. And under a law passed by Congress in 1996 and reaffirmed recently, abortions cannot be performed at military hospitals, even at the expense of the patient. So, the soldier wrote, she had to take vacation time, fly back to the United States and have an abortion there. She was out $1,100, and returned to work angry at the country she was fighting to protect.
"I can only remember thinking at the time how unfair it was that I had to resort to these drastic measures," the soldier wrote in September 2001. "Had I been in the states, it would have been no issue. I remember being resentful of my fellow male comrades, who are able to have vasectomies at the cost of the military in Germany. And I had to use my leave time and own funds to fly back to the U.S. for what is also a reproductive choice."
Sanchez, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said she has received a number of similar letters. "A lot of women write to me and they tell me about these humiliating things they have to deal with" because of the Pentagon's ban on abortions, she said during a recent interview in her Capitol Hill office.


Penalized For Serving Their Country:
The Ban On Abortion For Women In the Military


By statute, the United States government bans almost all abortion services at U.S. military hospitals and other medical facilities. Federal law provides that:

No medical treatment facility or other facility of the Department of Defense may be used to perform an abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

10 U.S.C. § 1093 (b).1 A servicewoman who does not come within the narrow "life, rape or incest" exception, even one whose health is jeopardized by her pregnancy, is prohibited from obtaining an abortion at U.S. military health facilities, even if she pays for the procedure with her own money. Although the U.S. Constitution ensures that women in the United States have the right to access safe and legal abortion, a woman serving in the United States military, or the female spouse or dependant of a service member, cannot exercise this constitutional right in a U.S. military medical facility either domestically or abroad.


Pentagon weighs in on military abortions proposal

If a Senate-passed measure expanding abortion rights for military women were to become law, the Pentagon would not resist compliance, a senior Defense Department official has told CNN.
"If the law changes, we will comply with the law," the official said Tuesday.

________


The point is, we don't know why she was discharged.

maybe she went AWOL !
now she just needs a millionaire, ex CIA chief and ex President daddy, 5 friends at the Supreme Court and she's home free! President Goodwin -- those pro-military Republicans will just love her! she went to the same high-school as Colin Powell!
posted by matteo at 9:06 AM on April 24, 2004


Anyone else surprised by the fact that this thread is about Godwin and no-one's mentioned Hitler yet?
posted by spazzm at 9:10 AM on April 24, 2004


wow, there's some invective here.

Decrepit and underfunded as NYC's homeless system is, this woman was in the U.S. Army and therefore the federal government, not the city government, has failed her. Keep that in mind.

And yes, of course this is her fault as well. She should have simply stepped on a land mine in Iraq, and then she would have gotten the hero's funeral with the big american flag and everything. Maybe the ceremony wouldn't have been as nice as the one the football player guy gets, but hell, it's something.

But she's alive, and not a statistic, so she's easily forgotten. Forget away.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:14 AM on April 24, 2004


both of my brother-in-laws are in the military and aren't in Iraq.

dear congressman:

enclosed please find witty's brothers, two willing chunks of future cannon fodder who thus far have been deprived by their own military of the privelege of dying in iraq. please send them to iraq immediately, and return two soldiers who wish to iraq leave ASAP.
posted by quonsar at 9:15 AM on April 24, 2004


I live a few miles away from the country's largest naval base, and my step father was military, so I know quite a lot about military life, and especially how they treat military families.

That's why I find it particularly important whether or not she chose not to reenlist. The military takes care of its own. Without exception what I've observed is that people in the military are never homeless, and their children are always taken care of. On base, housing, child care, food, electronics, entertainment, etc, are all heavily subsidised and very cheap.

Leaving a gig like that with a child, no job prospects and moving to one of the most expensive places to live in the country is exercising unbelievably bad judgement.


Decrepit and underfunded as NYC's homeless system is, this woman was in the U.S. Army and therefore the federal government, not the city government, has failed her. Keep that in mind.


Is there some clause in the Army's enlistment paperwork where it said it would provide her with housing and child care after she got out? If so they've failed her, clearly. Otherwise, she's getting exactly the deal she signed up for. Municipalities are charged with the task of taking care of their homeless, not the US military.
posted by mragreeable at 9:20 AM on April 24, 2004


But seriously, folks:
This is about another homeless vet - what makes it different from the last war?
posted by spazzm at 9:22 AM on April 24, 2004


In other words, mragreeable, poor planning on her part does not constitute an emergency on the American taxpayer's part.
posted by pieoverdone at 9:24 AM on April 24, 2004


So yesterday Americans cannot fall all over themselves enough about Pat Tillman and today we cannot criticize this woman enough. Sad contrast.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:29 AM on April 24, 2004


....so she's easily forgotten. Forget away.

and
god bless America also. right?


My first Impression was as JanetLands'

"There are an awful lot of unexplained details in this story."
posted by clavdivs at 9:31 AM on April 24, 2004


billsaysthis said it all.

If our social services are lacking (and they totally are), why is this a "blame the victim" thing? She served her country honorably, and is coming home to shit. It reminds me of how pro-lifers are all hot to protect unborn children, but don't give a shit about those already born and living.
posted by amberglow at 9:37 AM on April 24, 2004


Quite the hateful bunch today, aren't we?
posted by iamck at 9:38 AM on April 24, 2004


I got an e-mail from a non-member who asked me to post her response to mragreeable:


I wish I could reply to you on Metafilter but they've been closed to new members for ages.

As someone who works for a church and on a regular basis works with people who are homeless (or about to become so), I feel the need to share something with you.

1) Being homeless can happen to ANYONE. This in itself is scary to the average American. Being homeless cannot always be considered a moral failing or attributed to a lack of motivation.

2) Although many of the folks on Metafilter (and people who read it, like me) are not hurting for employment right now, other people in this country are. If you don't have connections to the "computer age cabal" (like we both do) to network for the wired jobs or excellent guidance through the employment system, it is a tough, tough thing to land a job right now while:
  • Dealing with the psychological issues of having served in a war (post-war stress is pretty intense) during your search;
  • Being all too aware that the person you fathered a child with is not going to support you without a fight;
  • Friends and family will not support and care for you during a tough transition back to civilian life;
  • Not having unlimited access to a computer terminal and the undistracted time to use it (when you have a toddler someday, you'll understand what a time and attention sponge kids are. They can't help it, they just are.)
  • You may not have someone safe and competent willing to keep the baby while you hit the streets looking for work;
  • You may not have someone safe and competent and affordable to leave the baby with while you are working;
  • An potential employer who may not take a chance on you if you ask at all during an interview about childcare, child sick days, etc. (that type of discrimination isn't supposed to happen, but it does);
  • You need a job that will allow you to afford rent, utilities, health care for the baby, day care for the baby and healthy food;
Churches across the country are struggling to feed, clothe and care for the homeless, sick and rejected. Our own financial resources have been cut to the bone because our own members are out of work. We do what we can, but many of us struggle to be a "social services agency"...we aren't usually set up to operate like a full-benefits social service agency. We often do not have the counseling skills on staff to deal with mental health issues, affordable housing in SAFE neighborhoods is getting to be impossible to find (especially in cities--I'm in Chicago). We are awash in donated designer clothes (useless) but have very few baby items given to us...diaper supplies, baby food that isn't past the expiration date, etc. Even gaining access to social services takes SO MUCH TIME.

Here is a current, real, "edge of homeless" story for you that I am personally involved in:
  • I have spent four hours waiting in line with someone about to become homeless who needed to talk about rental assistance. All of the programs has dried up in the last two years. There is nothing available and real estate is through the roof. Everything has gone condo.
  • She lost her husband 5 years ago to cancer. They spent their life savings trying to save him (he had already retired) because Medicare didn't cover the bills. He died and she has no one. No family. Social Security will not allow her to access his Social Security because she is 57...so they cut her off even though he was the primary wage earner in the family. She will be allowed some limited benefits at age 60...but we have to get her there.
  • She was able to find a part-time job that pays $6.90 per hour (which is a great hourly rate...far above minimum wage.) $130 a month goes towards paying off his funeral costs and the double plot she bought to bury him in. Her job has cut back her hours to 20 hours a week for now because of their own financial issues. They offer her no benefits.
  • She's hesitant to take a second job because the first job requires her to have a flexible schedule and she makes much more there per hour than she would anywhere else. They may or may not increase her hours at any point.
  • At full time, she was taking home about $800-900 a month after taxes. Now she is down to $400-450. Her rent for a studio apartment close enough to work (she cannot afford a car, relies on public transportation) is $450 a month.
  • She is gluten and lactose-intolerant so it is difficult to get her proper food from the neighborhood food pantry. The food pantry has had its donations of meat and vegetables cut by the government. These are foods she has to pay for herself. Along with wheat free breads and soy milk. When I went with her to apply for aide for groceries, she was treated so poorly by government employees, we both ended up in tears. But every little bit helps, even if you have to walk that gauntlet everyday.
  • She has to pay for utilities and often sits in the dark silently because she is afraid of her electric bill. It is cheaper for her to have a cellular phone because she doesn't know where she is going to be...reinstalling phone service everywhere costs too much money.
  • She uses the cell phone for emergencies and to try to find work. She counts minutes like a hawk.
  • She has sold her furniture (except for her bed), though it didn't bring much money.
  • She should be on medication for her blood pressure, but she cannot afford it and the doctors at the community hospital are difficult to access.
  • In the midst of all of this other stress and still grieving the loss of her beloved husband, sweeping change is overwhelming. Maybe she would be better off in Iowa than Chicago? She would be stepping from the known into the unknown...where would she work? Would it pay enough to afford something out there? She would be away from her husband's grave and, although that sounds incidental to you or I in the face of becoming homeless, it is all she has of him at the moment.
  • She wants to work. Wants to support herself. Wants to be independent. But all of the structure that would have helped her get a step up has disappeared. Republicans would love her. She doesn't want to be on welfare or be supported by anyone. She detests taking handouts. But, here she is--stuck--because of circumstances.
And she doesn't even have a baby.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is...please be careful about judging the homeless and the circumstances that put them there unless you've met them, gotten to know them and have walked in their shoes. It is difficult to boil down the complexities of what is going on to the growing population of folks living below the poverty line in the country within one news article.

Having a baby out of wedlock can happen even if you use condoms. That type of thing has been happening for thousands of years. Chasing someone down to get child support (and enforce the continuing payments) also takes an enormous amount of money, time, emotional energy and legal assistance. It takes two to make a child--in or out of wedlock. So I agree that this should be easier for women (or men) to do. Legal assistance of this kind is also disappearing. Sex outside of marriage, deciding to have a child versus an abortion, deciding to keep a child...these are all incredibly complex issues that cannot be dismissed by the label of "Jezebel" and the washing your hands of the matter. Work with enough poor families and you begin to understand just how complex this really is.

So...please be compassionate. If you really feel strongly about this woman standing on her own two feet, please consider volunteering with someone to show them how using whatever resources you have.

Thanks.

jmo

posted by PrinceValium at 9:49 AM on April 24, 2004


well said.
posted by amberglow at 9:53 AM on April 24, 2004


cool.
posted by matteo at 10:04 AM on April 24, 2004


(when you have a toddler someday, you'll understand what a time and attention sponge kids are. They can't help it, they just are.)

IF. Not when.
posted by pieoverdone at 10:09 AM on April 24, 2004


Jesus, regardless of whether she was in the military or not, its a fucking disgrace that any woman should be on the street with a baby. What the hell do people in your country pay taxes for? How can America claim to be the greatest country on Earth and have people live like this? And as for relying on churches for help, what's the point of government and of society if they can't protect their most vulnerable members?
posted by biffa at 10:22 AM on April 24, 2004


biffa:

Todd: Daddy, what do taxes pay for?
Ned: Oh, why, everything! Policemen, trees, sunshine! And let's not forget the folks who just don't feel like working, God bless 'em!
posted by keswick at 10:36 AM on April 24, 2004


What the hell do people in your country pay taxes for?

why, the war on terror! what else?
posted by quonsar at 10:43 AM on April 24, 2004


How can America claim to be the greatest country on Earth and have people live like this?

We (sometimes) require that people suffer the consequences of their actions.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:51 AM on April 24, 2004


for decades it's been like this, biffa. I think since Reagan first got in--with his "welfare queens driving cadillacs" bullshit. Social services were never good here to begin with, and have been systematically starved of funds and attention. Our current administration actually believes that it's not the government's responsibility at all, but a job for "faith-based" programs.
posted by amberglow at 10:51 AM on April 24, 2004


I think the underlying idea is that, since she served her country in a war, she deserves a bit better from her country.

Yes, though that's not exactly the frame of the article. If our veteran's benefits system is inadequate, then all vets deserve better than they're getting. The frame of this article is that no vet should ever wind up without a home. The idea is not to improve the benefits, but to create a bottom, a floor, through which no veteran can fall. In this case, the implication would be that having a place to live is where that floor should be. I'm not entirely certain that 3 years of employment in the army should guarantee any kind of living standard in perpetuity. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for living wages, affordable housing, and preserving the safety net, but for everybody. I just don't see ex military personnel as particularly special, at least not as much as the "underlying idea" would seem to suggest. And I don't know that I would ever go as far as making private housing a guaranteed right, liberal though I may be.

Actually I think the real underlying idea is to smear the Iraq campagin even further, and to discredit Bush in the eyes of military personnel and their families and friends. Look at the veterans being left high and dry by this administration. Etc.
posted by scarabic at 11:02 AM on April 24, 2004


Isn't that in the story too, tho, scarabic, how there's really no "floor" for anyone, let alone soldiers? The story recounts how Veteran's Services was no help, just like regular social services.
posted by amberglow at 11:36 AM on April 24, 2004


This thread turns my stomach. Forget about this woman. Forget about her child. Hell, forget about anyone homeless or just down on their luck and carry on with your smug, superiority complexes, but hope real hard you're never faced with anything similar, ok? Refuse and resist allowing your tax dollars to help someone who might turn out to be your neighbor, a family member, or one day possibly you while you say little to nothing about those same dollars funding a war that we were told was to improve the lives* of a whole nation of people who don't even contribute here. sigh.

*A worthy cause btw, if I believed it, but not the point here either.
posted by LouReedsSon at 11:53 AM on April 24, 2004


I'm not entirely certain that 3 years of employment in the army should guarantee any kind of living standard in perpetuity

Perhaps not the time of enlistment, but from where I'm standing service abroad in a war zone should entitle you to something more than the cold-shouldered disdain that I'm reading in these comments. She willingly risked her life for her country. Whether she served for three years of thirty shouldn't make a difference. We, as a nation, owe her something -- at least more respect than I'm seeing here and perhaps also a helping hand when she needs it most.

Look at the veterans being left high and dry by this administration.

Well, its a fact that veterans are being left high and dry by this administration. They send citizen soldiers off to die in Iraq while waiving the flag with one hand, while the other hand proposes cuts to things like military family housing, bonuses paid to soldiers serving in combat zones and veterans' health care.

Three years of service is three years of service, and I don't see that it matters much if those three years were 1941-1944 or 2001-2004, we should honor that service by giving this woman and the thousands like her with some assistance in the transition involved in returning to civilian life.
posted by anastasiav at 11:53 AM on April 24, 2004


I had a slightly snarky comment that children will continue to be born out of wedlock so long as straight men continue to have sex outside wedlock (funny how no one suggests their abstinence, though it would solve the entire problem.)

But most of all, I wanted to say that JMO has provided the best response of all: knowledge. Before you start condemning, learn. Funny - never met anyone who did condemn after learning a little. Maybe because they realise that "there but for the grace of God go I." And I wanted to thank you, jmo, for taking the time to share with us your knowledge, and the wisdom that brings.
posted by jb at 11:59 AM on April 24, 2004


Being a single parent in the military these days is no longer the cake walk that it used to be. You must have a parenting plan that covers any deployment possibilities. We already know that her family couldn't (wouldn't?) be a part of that plan. Perhaps the people in California couldn't be a part of that plan any longer. A parenting plan doesn't work if you don't have anyone to put on there.

While childcare in the military is great, it doesn't care for your child for a year while you are deployed. Yes, she could be given housing for her and her daughter, but again, it doesn't cover the deployment issues.

As a soldier my husband has the luxury of me, the mother of his child, to be here, taking care of things while he is in Iraq. Sure, if I wasn't here for some reason he's got a great family that would take our daughter in a heartbeat. Not everyone in the military comes from a supportive family. There are a lot more people running away from families into the military than you might think. While you are single it is a pretty great life. Food, shelter, clothing, a paycheck.

I work for a homeless shelter that has to turn away dozens of families a month because we just don't have the room or money to house them. The system is broken somehow when you have a government spending billions of dollars on war and I'm getting phone calls from mothers telling me how they have been living in their car for a month with three kids. We WANT to help them but we can't. The problems have been identified...now how do we fix them?
posted by rowEn at 12:02 PM on April 24, 2004


Strong enough to fight a war, but not strong enough to make hamburgers.

WTF?
posted by shepd at 12:13 PM on April 24, 2004


Witty> “She did, afterall, give birth to a child out of wedlock

I haven't heard anyone use that phrase in years. It hadn't even occurred to me that people could still be bigoted about such a thing. Is a person reproducing without the sanction of the church or state really still considered (by some people) to be a sign of irresponsibility?

Disclaimer: I generally write my comments carefully, conscious that I speak to an audience that I wish to approach with the deepest respect. With that background in mind I am actually asking a question, not trying to attack the original poster.
posted by snarfodox at 12:16 PM on April 24, 2004


shepd, who watches her kid while she makes burgers at 5.15 an hour? and how will she get an apartment at that salary? (there are years-long waiting lists for public housing and city daycare, and we haven't built new housing in ages)
posted by amberglow at 12:47 PM on April 24, 2004


Strong enough to fight a war, but not strong enough to make hamburgers.

Yeah, shepd, WTF is right ... where are you getting that from?

She's currently getting $250.00 per week on unemployment. That means she needs to find a job that will pay her more than $250.00/week after taxes in order to just keep treading water. That's about a $7 - $8 per hour job, just to stay at the economic level she is at now. Do burger flipping jobs in NYC pay $8/hour?

Then, lets add the fact that she has a young daughter into the mix. Please explain to me how, on a (say) $7.50/hour wage, this young woman is going to a) get an apartment b) pay for child-care while she's at work and c) is going to buy groceries, pay utilities, etc.

It has nothing to do with being strong enough and everything to do with making decisions that will enable her to at least maintain access to the services she has now, rather than accepting low-paying work "because its the right thing to do" that will actually leave her and her daughter worse off than they were before. The options and services available to the working poor are quite limited, and in many cases the fact that she's working at all -- regardless of her wage -- will cut off her access to benefits that she clearly needs to have access to in order to survive.

Please shepd, I'd love to hear how, exactly, her taking a minimum-wage burger flipping job is going to help the situation. If she had only herself to care for, I might agree with you, but add in the child and the cost of child-care, and it becomes a whole different equation.
posted by anastasiav at 12:48 PM on April 24, 2004


anastasiav, she isn't Mother Mary. She chose to have the kid and now needs to face the consequences of that poor decision.
posted by shepd at 2:19 PM on April 24, 2004


shepd, she needs to face being homeless and jobless? very very cold of you. Should she die too?
posted by amberglow at 2:21 PM on April 24, 2004


*slaps forehead*
posted by Space Coyote at 2:21 PM on April 24, 2004


We (sometimes) require that people suffer the consequences of their actions.

Right, the ones at the bottom of the economic ladder. As opposed to the ultra-rich theiving assholes like Lay, Skilling, the Rigas family. Or the massive and admitted government theivery by Diebold and Halliburton. That sometimes better be an attempt at irony or Kwantsar, you are one sad countryman of mine.
posted by billsaysthis at 2:23 PM on April 24, 2004


>shepd, she needs to face being homeless and jobless? very very cold of you. Should she die too?

You all know I am against capital punishment. However, that and torture are where my emotional involvement with problems ends.

I have no achy-breaky heart. Numbers is my game. You do something stupid, you pay for it. The only smart thing you can do is to figure out the best way out of your mess. Getting yourself addicted to government funds is not a solution, it's the problem.
posted by shepd at 2:32 PM on April 24, 2004


mragreeable:
Regarding your comment about this woman choosing to live in one of the world's most expensive cities, you might be surprised to learn that there are still plenty of poor people in New York City. She lives in the Bronx, not the West Village.
posted by crank at 2:39 PM on April 24, 2004


shped, she's trying to fix her situation, and others are helping her too. What else should she be doing? It seems to me she's doing what she can, given that she has no family support. I don't know what you expect her to do--Leave her toddler on a park bench while she works at McDonalds?

What do you expect her to do?
posted by amberglow at 2:46 PM on April 24, 2004


Right, the ones at the bottom of the economic ladder. As opposed to the ultra-rich theiving assholes like Lay, Skilling, the Rigas family. Or the massive and admitted government theivery by Diebold and Halliburton. That sometimes better be an attempt at irony or Kwantsar, you are one sad countryman of mine.

The "sometimes" wasn't supposed to be ironic, per se. We let many people (like Lay or Skilling) avoid the consequences of their actions. I don't think that's just, but it does necessitate the "sometimes".


What else should she be doing?


Scraping up $500, hopping a plane to Tulsa, and stuffing envelopes for a living?
posted by Kwantsar at 3:09 PM on April 24, 2004


How can America claim to be the greatest country on Earth and have people live like this?

There are some people who judge "greatness" by looking at the top. America has the "best" doctors, the "best" military, the "best" etc.

There are other people who judge "greatness" by looking at the bottom. That is, how much are you willing to tolerate as a society? Do you turn your back on people in dire straights? Do you think "fate's a bitch to all of us, so why should I help you?"

This country is full of selfish assholes who will jump their brains through the most tortuous of mental hoops in order to convince themselves that they're justified in their behavior. The sooner we kill them, the happier we'll all be.

Smarmy right-wing retort: "But then who will do all the work in the country?"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:20 PM on April 24, 2004


Scraping up $500, hopping a plane to Tulsa, and stuffing envelopes for a living?
How? and who watches the kid while she does that?
posted by amberglow at 3:27 PM on April 24, 2004


On reflection, please take the "kill them all" quip with a grain of salt.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 PM on April 24, 2004


She had a bad relationship with her mom and "needed to leave" and joined the military giving "little thought to the chance of war".

She servers her time and comes back to "circumstances that were no less difficult than when she had left them three years earlier". In other words, they did not magically change.

But now she has a kid (not issued by the military) added on top of her previous situation.

Her problems were there before she left, and were there when she returned. He problems have nothing to do with the military.

And yes, of course this is her fault as well. She should have simply stepped on a land mine in Iraq

No matter how much flaming rhetoric you'd like to use.

(and the opening post couldn't be more misleading. Written with a spin almost comical.)
posted by justgary at 3:53 PM on April 24, 2004


The causa sui is the best self-contradiction that has been conceived so far; it is a sort of rape and perversion of logic; but the extravagant pride of man has managed to entangle itself profoundly and frightfully with just this nonsense. The desire for 'freedom of the will' in the superlative metaphysical sense, which still holds sway, unfortunately, in the minds of the half-educated; the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one's actions oneself, and to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance, and society involves nothing less than to be precisely this causa sui and, with more than Baron Munchhausen's audacity, to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the swamps of nothingness. -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
posted by Opus Dark at 4:13 PM on April 24, 2004


What spin? She used to be a soldier in Iraq, and now she's homeless. No amount of embellishment can alter the fact that some kind of extreme injustice has occurred.
posted by PrinceValium at 4:22 PM on April 24, 2004


This thread reminds me why I hate America so much.
posted by Eekacat at 4:47 PM on April 24, 2004


She used to be a soldier in Iraq, and now she's homeless. No amount of embellishment can alter the fact that some kind of extreme injustice has occurred.

Actually, I could come up with a number of scenarios where extreme injustice, at least towards this ex-soldier, would NOT have occurred. But I would never claim that that's the case here, because the article simply does not give enough details about this woman's circumstances.

Are you saying that every soldier, or everyone who served in Iraq, or something like that, is automatically entitled to housing for life? It is possible to have served one's country well and then come back and thoroughly mess up one's life through stupid actions. Again, I'm not saying that's happened here; we can't know that. But to insist that an injustice MUST have occurred seems melodramatic to me.
posted by JanetLand at 5:19 PM on April 24, 2004


I am curious about a few things...

What is the nature of the disagreement with her mother, and what is the nature of the argument that caused her to lose her subsequent living arrangements?

What savings did she have set aside, during the time when all her living expenses were taken care of by the military, and she knew she was going to eventually be discharged and have a child to take care of?

What planning has she done in the career department? What kind of job does she hope to get?

And it's news to me that you can get unemployment for a job that you leave voluntarily. Heh.
posted by beth at 5:47 PM on April 24, 2004


Janet, shouldn't every American have a place to live? We hear all the time how we're the best, the richest, the most poweful country around, yet this shit happens a lot. Her case is not rare, by any means.
posted by amberglow at 6:04 PM on April 24, 2004


make that powerful
posted by amberglow at 6:05 PM on April 24, 2004


Kwantsar - could you please explain to me what actions her baby committed that caused her the consequence of homelessness?

I have a proposal for this poor woman's problem, though - she should bleach herself and her daugther, take a plane back to Iraq, learn Arabic and pass herself off as an Iraqi as it's obvious to me that our government's a lot more willing to help them than our own veterans.

That was extreme sarcasm, in case anyone's fooled. And it's been educational to read all the snarky comments by those war supporters who can't show any compassion towards a war veteran. I've just come up with ANOTHER reason to be against this war - because the ungrateful bastards our soldiers are "protecting" don't fucking deserve that protection. Or any. If you want protection from the "bad guys" of the world and the terrorists, go buy your own damned guns and training and do for yourselves.

After all, that's what you want our vets to do. And their one year old babies.
posted by pyramid termite at 6:05 PM on April 24, 2004


What spin? She used to be a soldier in Iraq, and now she's homeless. No amount of embellishment can alter the fact that some kind of extreme injustice has occurred.

The first part of that is correct. The second is just part of your delusional spin.

Where is the injustice? Because she joined the military and served 3 years they should take care of problems that existed before she ever entered?

Every problem she had came before the military, except for the child. So she joins, serves 3 years, gets out, and its injustice that the problems are still there?

Was she told when she entered the military that they would take care of her problems? That she'd get rich? That she HAD to join the military?

Where is this "extreme injustice"? She joined the military by her own decision and went to war. That's what the military does.

She didn't lose a high paying job. She wasn't forced to leave school. She simply returned to the life she had before signing up.

Calling it extreme injustice is a joke. You almost sound like a lawyer.
posted by justgary at 6:06 PM on April 24, 2004


Janet, shouldn't every American have a place to live?

Certainly. Don't have any problem with that. Everybody in the world should have a place to live as far as I am concerned. I was questioning what seemed to me to be the supposition that soldiers are especially entitled to housing, forever, and the supposition that everyone is entitled to housing regardless of any actions they might take to not have that housing (again, not saying that that's what's happened here!).
posted by JanetLand at 6:12 PM on April 24, 2004


I'll be a lawyer in two years, and proud of it.

Housing for life? No. Short-term housing as equitable relief in bad circumstances, acknowledging the fact that Ms. Goodwin displaced her life and her newborn baby in order to fulfill her obligations to the military? Yes, absolutely.

This is not the case of the Vietnam vet of thirty years ago who is homeless today. That's unspeakably sad, and reflects poorly on all of us, but it's not the same situation. Here we have a woman who, upon honorable discharge, was punted by the Army to dysfunctional city housing services who couldn't give two shits about her circumstances. The VA should be responding to her needs, not the local homeless shelter. (Fortunately the article is optimistic about the chances of the VA getting involved on her behalf.)

A substantial number of very smart people would say without reservation that any homelessness is extreme injustice. In that light it's callous to frame as a "joke" a sense of outrage that exists when a woman with a 1-year-old daughter is forced to bounce between homeless shelters after risking her life in Iraq.
posted by PrinceValium at 6:26 PM on April 24, 2004


I'll be a lawyer in two years, and proud of it.

Seeing injustice where it doesn't exist, I'm sure you are.

Ms. Goodwin displaced her life and her newborn baby in order to fulfill her obligations to the military?

Of her own choice. You really seem to be blind to the fact that people make their own choices. Again, and this is something you never respond to, do you think she was under the impression that after leaving the military she would be taken care of? That her life would change?

A substantial number of very smart people would say without reservation that any homelessness is extreme injustice.

I agree, and I pointed that out with my first post. Its a homeless problem, not a military problem.

I'll say it again. The problems she had were there before the military and there after the military. Joining the military was in no way going to solve them. You continue to ignore these facts. It's much easier to scream injustice.

I don't think her being homeless is a joke. I think your calling it extreme injustice is a joke. She joined by her own decision, was paid what she knew she would be paid, and then left returning to the problems that she tried to escape from.

And it's the militarys fault. Welcome to american where everyone is a victim.
posted by justgary at 6:47 PM on April 24, 2004


do you think she was under the impression that after leaving the military she would be taken care of? That her life would change?
To be a fly on the wall of any recruiting office when a poor kid walks in, just to listen about the remarkable opportunities in the services, and the high-tech skills they'd be learning, and the paying for college, and what a great opportunity it is.

Yes, she thought her life would change.
posted by amberglow at 6:52 PM on April 24, 2004


Amberglow, I've been in that office. Yes, they sell it to you, but many, many decide not to join. We don't know that she was high pressured into joining.

It sounds like it was on a whim to escape her life.

She herself said she "needed to leave".

And many, many people (including my brother) have school paid for by the military.

There just isn't enough info in the article to scream injustice, unless you enjoy such things, and many here do.
posted by justgary at 7:00 PM on April 24, 2004


I wonder how many people responding on this thread have ever been homeless, even for a short period?

I haven't - but not because I am hard-working or capable, but because I had the luck to be born in the 70s in a country with a social welfare system and subsidized housing.

My father abandoned my mother in 1980, leaving her with two small children and no job. The recession of the early 80s hit, and the interest rate on their house jumped to 22%; she lost the house. She then moved into a one-bedroom apartment where the rent was so high she wasn't able to afford bread; she baked baking powder biscuits for my brother's school lunches. We did suffer from anemia, though, until a social worker gave her a recipe for liverworst (she could get vouchers to buy liver, but couldn't get us to eat it).

Then we were very lucky; she was given a three bedroom subsidized apartment - waiting lists were years shorter in the early 80s. She was able to finish highschool (which had been interrupted by her marriage, as often happened then), get some college, work a variety of jobs including childcare and for a literacy non-profit (she even wrote a book on how to run children literacy programs), none of which would have paid enough for three of us to live without the subsidized rent. I grew up in this apartment, safe and healthy, never realising how lucky I was. It gave me the stability to grow up, go to school and not just finish highschool, but go to university and graduate school. All of my life, and any success I have, or better chances that my children have, rested on the fact that I, as a three-year old, could live safe and sound in subsidized housing.

I'm also thinking some of the other families I met growing up, including a couple with a severely disabled son, his father worked full time for the bus company, but his mother had to be home to look after him and even with national health care the additional costs for his equiptment was more than they could afford without subsidized rent. You will find many people working full time living in subsidized buildings - including both couples and single parents who couldn't otherwise afford childcare. Wages just don't keep up with the cost of living - and the fact is that if you try to move somewhere where the costs are less, you often find that the number of jobs (particularly for someone with no connections in the new community) are fewer as well. We could have moved to the country and found a cheap apartment - and then my mother would never have found any job. We stayed where the jobs were.

My mother also could have, like this woman was told to, moved in with her mother. But there was a very good reason she left home to get married to begin with - her mother had physically abused her for years, beating her with metal clothes hangers. If we had moved back in, who knows what my grandmother would have done to us?

But even if that had not been the case, it would have been bad parenting to move us into any situation with a high level of conflict. I don't want to cast any suspicions on this woman's mother - I do not know the family. But if the conflict with her family is even to the point of yelling and screaming often, that already is an unsafe environment for her daughter. To tell them they had to move back there would be tantamount to child abuse. I don't remember my parent's fighting - my older brother does, and I think it has affected him for life. Let alone the point, made by an earlier poster, that a two bedroom apartment already inhabited by three women and a child could not in any first world country be considered a healthy housing option.

And no matter what you think of this woman's life choices (which actually are very responsible, considering her situation in life, and I would challenge anyone to say they would have coped better), would you say that her child doesn't deserve a safe and stable home, and both of them the chance for a better life?

Homelessness in a country like the United States, or Canada, or any first world nation, is an extreme injustice, period, otherwise we don't have the right to brag about being "the first world" - we're just the third world with more rich people. In the north, it can be tantamount to murder - Toronto has regular statistics as to how many people freeze to death on the street each winter. We have the money to set minimums for the standard of living - we just don't have the will. What kind of people does that make us?
posted by jb at 7:47 PM on April 24, 2004


For what it is worth, NYC homeless population figures.
posted by lampshade at 8:23 PM on April 24, 2004


I love how the advocates of self sufficiency in this thread are presently using askme for help.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:07 PM on April 24, 2004


Thank you, jb.

Parts of this thread have left me in despair-- all this rhetoric about "choices" and "consequences" which only masks a desire to punish the weak which verges on sadism; and this clinging to some kind of notion of individualism which is blind to the fact that we are all interdependent, and that despite all the planning and hard work in the world, shit happens... All it takes is a few unlucky breaks, a family unable to provide support, an illness, a layoff, and it's suddenly you who are living in your car, you who are walking the streets.
posted by jokeefe at 12:18 AM on April 25, 2004


all this rhetoric about "choices" and "consequences"

Talking about choices and consequences is certainly not rhetoric. It's part of life.

and that despite all the planning and hard work in the world, shit happens... All it takes is a few unlucky breaks, a family unable to provide support, an illness, a layoff, and it's suddenly you who are living in your car

Agreed. Sometimes, despite making the correct choices, things don't go as planned, and help is needed.

Its a mixture of both. To deny the first is to give in to helplessness and the belief that we have no control over our situation.
posted by justgary at 12:40 AM on April 25, 2004


sgt. serenity, did I ever ask for help from AxMe? Take a look, did I? No. Did I help instead? Yes.

I live and breathe and would die by the sword. I believe in Free charity. I live by Free charity given by those who are willing (my parents, in my case). I refuse forced charity (government "charity" stipends). I am paid $1.25 an hour, work more than 80 hours a week, still have to pay taxes, I don't qualify for EI, and have a debt load that, technically, at this income rate, will actually take more than my entire life to pay. And I am happy.

So, if you're going to give me the "you ain't seen the things I've seen" rap, you go and run your own business and come back to me about what the definition of consequences is. If I screw up, don't sell enough, and miss a rent payment, there's nobody crying for me. I'd be homeless, *NOT* making $250 a month for free (remember, I don't pay or get EI) and bankrupt. But *I'd* be a single male proprietor of a business that didn't succeed, and somehow that makes it right for me to be the world's doormat.

So, excuse me if my heart doesn't bleed for this lady. Especially when I know single men with children living at home on LESS THAN HALF that government stipend ($650 CDN monthly, to be exact). She's having the time of her life in comparison. Why the hell should my heart be breaking for her?

Having a baby when you can't even feed yourself is so stupid, hell, I wouldn't hesitate to get her mental help. What the HELL was she thinking?

You want to talk about heart?

How heartless to bring a child into the world when you yourself aren't able to live a fully functional life.
posted by shepd at 12:58 AM on April 25, 2004


Everyone who feels sympathy for this woman is obvious just letting fuzzy liberal sentiments overwhelm the principles that America was built on.

After all, wasn't it Benjamin Franklin himself who said, "It is better to throw a hundred single mothers out on the streets than to raise taxes for a single wealthy man"?

Clearly all those who whine about how the so called "economic realities" mean that this woman can't find a home are simply degenerate whiners, unwilling to stomach anything that even hints that people should take personal responsibility for everything that happens to them. After all, if she can't afford to pay the rent in the city she could move. A true American would walk carrying her toddler to a midwestern call center rather than accept any support drawn from the public weal.

Frankly i think the solution to all this is rather obvious. She should take a page from Jonathan Swift's book and sell her child to some wealthy American with a taste for human flesh. The money she received would allow her to put a damage deposit on an apartment, a have tubal ligation and allow her to get off the streets and spend the next 60 years of her life as a burger flipping cog in the new economy.

If she doesn't feel like flipping burgers she can perhaps find employment as a Wal Mart greeter best of all, freed from the burden of her child of sin she could join the army again to adequately repay the debt she owes to America for her Freedom.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori and God Bless America.

Goodnight.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:25 AM on April 25, 2004


What are your thoughts on the kid's father, oh ye prophet of self-reliance? Or is it only a woman's bad decision when she ends up pregnant?
posted by Space Coyote at 1:26 AM on April 25, 2004


quonsar - Here's your expected "Fuck You". Congrats! As usual, you worked hard for it. I'd also like to mention that, they have both already returned from their time in Iraq... for one of them, his second war.

Daddio - "And tucked away somewhere are the documents attesting to Ms. Goodwin's recent honorable discharge from the United States Army". I saw that, I read that. I know she was honorably discharged. But WHY? Because she chose not to stay in the military for fear of returning to Iraq? Because the Army asked her leave? Being honorably discharged just means you were released from your commitment honorably, as opposed to dishonorably (like a criminal would be).

Is a person reproducing without the sanction of the church or state really still considered (by some people) to be a sign of irresponsibility?

Well, outside of a committed relationship (at the very least), yes. But I understand that this is part of my conservative opinion of how best to bring a new life into this world.

Housing for life? No. Short-term housing as equitable relief in bad circumstances, acknowledging the fact that Ms. Goodwin displaced her life and her newborn baby in order to fulfill her obligations to the military? Yes, absolutely.

Until the short-term is up and the woman is "kicked out" so someone else can "move in"... then we get another MeFi thread about the injustice of this woman not getting a free ride for the rest of her life.

Janet, shouldn't every American have a place to live?

Why yes, amberglow. And everyone should have a lifetime supply of lollipops too. Wanna see my new pet baby dinosaur?

And for the rest of you that are complaining that some people are being somewhat critical of the article/situation/the women, etc... well, that's what the thread was/is for, right? Or were we all just supposed to login and post our various "Awww that's sad" comments?

What are your thoughts on the kid's father, oh ye prophet of self-reliance? Or is it only a woman's bad decision when she ends up pregnant?

My thoughts are that she should be in the Army's face trying to get them to step up and take responsibility or or they should take it for him (meaning the money for child support gets taken out of his check for him).
posted by Witty at 1:30 AM on April 25, 2004


That should read, "she should be in the Army's face trying to get them to make the father step up and take responsibility..."
posted by Witty at 1:34 AM on April 25, 2004


I know single men with children living at home on LESS THAN HALF that government stipend ($650 CDN monthly, to be exact)

Aye, there's the rub. Living on $650/month Canadian, in Canada, is a far better deal than $650/month American.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:07 AM on April 25, 2004


justgary, I wrote:

all this rhetoric about "choices" and "consequences"

And you responded:

Talking about choices and consequences is certainly not rhetoric. It's part of life.

Read the sentence again:

all this rhetoric about "choices" and "consequences" which only masks a desire to punish the weak [and] which verges on sadism.

I'm referring to the rhetoric employed within this thread, and how it brutalizes the discourse here. As far as further evidence goes, the fact that you immediately responded to the phrase "choices and consequences" with a knee jerk reiteration of what seems to pass for a social phillosophy without reading its context just kinda proves my point.

I fully expect to check in here later today and find someone intoxicated with this odd individualist fundamentalism yelling "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? If Tiny Tim is like to die, he had better do it and decrease the surplus population!"

Jesus. Thank God I don't live in America.
posted by jokeefe at 7:44 AM on April 25, 2004


Janet, shouldn't every American have a place to live?

Why yes, amberglow. And everyone should have a lifetime supply of lollipops too. Wanna see my new pet baby dinosaur?


Sure--lollipops for all. Right after we don't have 3 or 4 families living in the same apartment, or 2-family houses carved up into cubicles like a Bowery flophouse, or people living in their cars, or on the street. Then we need national healthcare. Then lollipops and ponies.
posted by amberglow at 8:18 AM on April 25, 2004


Could we take *my* name out of that last one? I didn't make that response.
posted by JanetLand at 8:24 AM on April 25, 2004


all this rhetoric about "choices" and "consequences" which only masks a desire to punish the weak [and] which verges on sadism.

I've never said anything about punishing anyone. The knee jerk reaction your searching for in this thread comes from the "she's homeless so it must be the military's fault. Not the military? Then it must be America's fault".

From the opening post regarding an article that is sketchy at best with details we have people calling out "extreme injustice". And I'm the one with the knee jerk reaction? Gotcha.

Yet just the mention that there are two sides to every story, that this woman's situation is one of BOTH her choices and the breakdown of the community around her results in such hyperbole as this:

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? If Tiny Tim is like to die, he had better do it and decrease the surplus population!"

Jesus. Thank God I don't live in America.

America's loss I'm sure.
posted by justgary at 8:25 AM on April 25, 2004


Then we need national healthcare.

Why is it anyone else's responsibility except mine to make sure than I am housed and have healthcare? Why, specifically, do people believe the government should have any hand in it?
posted by pieoverdone at 8:26 AM on April 25, 2004


Oh my Pieoverdone...you're obviously new here.
posted by justgary at 8:33 AM on April 25, 2004


Because it benefits all of us to have all our people housed and healthy (educated, too). We all live here together, and have to depend on each other, and we all do better when people can sleep at night in a safe space to call their own, and aren't suffering from illness.

This selfishness has got to stop. No other first-world country is so neglectful of its citizen's needs.

sorry, Janet--i copied and pasted what he did.
posted by amberglow at 8:36 AM on April 25, 2004


Shepd, you really need to explain your situation a little more explicitly. If I were to be uncharitable about this, from here it reads like you are sponging off your parents so you can piss around doing something you enjoy but that doesn't pay, and have bizarrely managed to turn this into some kind of personal philisophy. Which would put you in no position to judge this woman. But that's just being uncharitable, right?
posted by pascal at 9:07 AM on April 25, 2004


I was wondering if any anti-welfare folks had a better idea on how to help homeless people? because if not, I do! lets give every needy person a walkman and a copy of anthony robbin's personal power II on cassette.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:00 PM on April 25, 2004


all this rhetoric about "choices" and "consequences" which only masks a desire to punish the weak [and] which verges on sadism.

I've never said anything about punishing anyone.

I said a desire to punish, which is a slightly different thing, and I also did not say it specifically of your comments, but of a general tendency in the arguments in this thread. Let's recap, shall we?

She did, afterall, give birth to a child out of wedlock and it doesn't sound like the baby-daddy is doing much of anything to help. So that would be irresponsible behavior on her part.

Cry me a river.

Also, I think that there's a LOT in this story that a few condoms could have prevented.

Is there some clause in the Army's enlistment paperwork where it said it would provide her with housing and child care after she got out? If so they've failed her, clearly. Otherwise, she's getting exactly the deal she signed up for.

We (sometimes) require that people suffer the consequences of their actions.

Strong enough to fight a war, but not strong enough to make hamburgers. WTF?

She isn't Mother Mary. She chose to have the kid and now needs to face the consequences of that poor decision.

So, excuse me if my heart doesn't bleed for this lady. Especially when I know single men with children living at home on LESS THAN HALF that government stipend ($650 CDN monthly, to be exact). She's having the time of her life in comparison. Why the hell should my heart be breaking for her?

Having a baby when you can't even feed yourself is so stupid, hell, I wouldn't hesitate to get her mental help. What the HELL was she thinking?


So, yeah, I guess I sense I desire for her to be punished in all of that, in the kind of "she made her bed" kind of self righteous smugness that has long pretended to be moral when it is really anything but.

Jesus. Thank God I don't live in America.

America's loss I'm sure.


I prefer to think of it as Canada's gain. :)
posted by jokeefe at 5:46 PM on April 25, 2004


We will just agree to disagree. Some of those comments do seem self righteous, some seem spot on.

No doubt some here are putting the blame squarely on her shoulders, some (you), are portraying her as a victim of circumstances and the community she lives in with no fault of her own.

a perfectly responsible person caught in a bad circumstance. This is less about politics than a systemic failure to deal with homeless people in a rational, empathetic manner.

this woman was in the U.S. Army and therefore the federal government, not the city government, has failed her. Keep that in mind.

We, as a nation, owe her something

This thread reminds me why I hate America so much.

Two extremes, of which I'll stick to the middle. After all the cliches, rhetoric, and hyperbole, that's usually where the truth lies. Even in this story, where lack of detail makes opinions no more than guesses.
posted by justgary at 6:16 PM on April 25, 2004


I said a desire to punish, which is a slightly different thing, and I also did not say it specifically of your comments, but of a general tendency in the arguments in this thread. Let's recap, shall we?

This isn't about being punitive. This is about cause and effect.
posted by pieoverdone at 6:38 PM on April 25, 2004


I live by Free charity given by those who are willing (my parents, in my case)

So you live with your parents, and think that single mothers should support themselves?

Dude, how do you balance that one?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:13 PM on April 25, 2004


Is there some clause in the Army's enlistment paperwork where it said it would provide her with housing and child care after she got out? If so they've failed her, clearly. Otherwise, she's getting exactly the deal she signed up for.

So, yeah, I guess I sense I desire for her to be punished in all of that, in the kind of "she made her bed" kind of self righteous smugness that has long pretended to be moral when it is really anything but.


Ms. O'Keef -
My congratulations on your ability to take a quote grossly out of context.

The point I was addressing was whether or not the military had an obligation to fix this situation. It seems to me that evaluating exactly what the military promised her is a reasonable way of determining that. Perhaps you disagree, but to read into my statement smugness or a desire to punish is an enormous stretch.

Did you by chance notice my very next sentence? "Municipalities are charged with the task of taking care of their homeless, not the US military." Clearly I felt that someone had an obligation to help her, I simply don't think it's the US military. (And I'm not entirely certain it's the city either if she has a parent willing to take her in.)

Oh, right, that makes me smug. But your casting such a wide net based on some clearly out-of-context quotes is entirely sensible. Perhaps it would be better to address people's points and do a bit less name-calling?
posted by mragreeable at 7:30 PM on April 25, 2004


Right after we don't have 3 or 4 families living in the same apartment, or 2-family houses carved up into cubicles like a Bowery flophouse, or people living in their cars, or on the street.

Oh c'mon amberglow. I mean let's be fair here. The article you link to is a whole other problem, barely related to what this story is about. I mean just read the first sentence alone:

"The city's skyrocketing immigrant population and tight housing supply are forcing tens of thousands of New Yorkers to cram into illegal apartments, many of them potential deathtraps, a Daily News investigation reveals."

That's just a can of worms this thread doesn't deserve (because believe me, you won't agree with my "views" on that issue either).
posted by Witty at 8:33 PM on April 25, 2004


here you go then
posted by amberglow at 9:08 PM on April 25, 2004


« Older The Zompist Phrasebook...   |   Time to pull out the giant sal... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments