Skip

Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters
December 8, 2004 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.
posted by Postroad (43 comments total)

 
Well sure they're going to move those folks they can't stop-loss back to Iraq right out the door. They're no longer useful to the military so they get discarded like trash.

Damaged, disgruntled and discarded. Wonderful job that Mr. Bush is doing, isn't it?
posted by fenriq at 3:43 PM on December 8, 2004


how disgusting
posted by undule at 3:46 PM on December 8, 2004


PP volunteers to take them in, don't you PP?
posted by quonsar at 3:50 PM on December 8, 2004


Time for that No Soldier Left Behind act.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:52 PM on December 8, 2004


how disgusting

Yeah. It's bad enough that civilians can wind up homeless without spending several months in a war zone first.

Has anybody noted that this is from the Washington Times, the ultra-conservative Moonie Monarchist paper that's usually a bit to the right of Fox News? I wonder what their agenda is about this.
posted by davy at 4:06 PM on December 8, 2004


I wonder what their agenda is about this.

that, just like John Kerry before him, the veteran with the injured hand didn't bleed enough to earn Middle America's respect
posted by matteo at 4:10 PM on December 8, 2004


Note that veterants benefits have been eroded. I bet future tax cuts will warrant more sacrifices -- good old vets, they love America so much that anything goes.
posted by NewBornHippy at 4:18 PM on December 8, 2004


Wow. 25% of our country's homeless are veterans? I did not know that. I wonder if that figure is just veterans in general or only combat veterans.

As depressing as that figure is, I wouldn't be so quick to blame politicians/the military. As we all know, many people join the military out of disadvantaged backgrounds and may not have learned the lifeskills needed to maintain a job/relationship/house, etc. I'd be interested in seeing a socioeconomic makeup of the homeless vets and the percentage difference in homeless vets and homeless combat vets.
posted by b_thinky at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2004


> As we all know, many people join the military out of disadvantaged
> backgrounds and may not have learned the lifeskills needed to
> maintain a job/relationship/house,

And failing that, the sight of a few blown up babies should do.

I'd be quick at blaming war itself -- and war is on the shoulder of our politicians.
posted by NewBornHippy at 4:26 PM on December 8, 2004


Wow. 25% of our country's homeless are veterans? I did not know that. I wonder if that figure is just veterans in general or only combat veterans.

As of the 2000 census, veterans were 12.7% of the population over 18. I would assume that the vast majority are male (mostly draftees), which gives a percentage more like 25% overall. So making up 25% of the homeless doesn't surprise me.
posted by smackfu at 4:37 PM on December 8, 2004


PP volunteers to take them in, don't you PP?

Yeah, right. It'll be a snowy day in the fifth circle of hell when the Right offers to clean up after its messes.
posted by AlexReynolds at 4:52 PM on December 8, 2004


This just seems to be an effect that warfare has on people, they can't return to society. Hemingway wrote about it a lot... it's nothing new. Of course, that doesn't make it any less depressing.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:53 PM on December 8, 2004


This worries me.

My best friend's brother shot himself in full dress uniform yesterday. He was a Vietnam vet, and had posttraumatic stress disorder.

I don't want us to have a whole new generation of vets suffering like this.

No matter what our particular views on this war, it is imperative that we take care of our troops. It is their job to see and experience things that most of us could never imagine outside a horror film.
posted by konolia at 4:56 PM on December 8, 2004


b_thinky, part of the deal with going into the military is that they are supposed to train you for the rest of your life. They are failing to do that.

I'm not surprised that there are a lot of homeless veterans. This article talks about how quickly they are debriefed and kicked to the curb. The lingering affects of being immersed in a war zone for any length of time don't really run according to some bureaucrat's schedule and budgetary allotments.

Time's up, hope you're all better, see ya.
posted by fenriq at 4:56 PM on December 8, 2004


you guys can kill two birds (and some homeless people) with one stone: send them back to iraq! you're short soldiers, right?
posted by The God Complex at 5:08 PM on December 8, 2004


"No matter what our particular views on this war, it is imperative that we take care of our troops. It is their job to see and experience things that most of us could never imagine outside a horror film."

Indeed, so we should try to keep them from having to do that, by not electing people who will send them off to war on a basis of lies, then abandon them when they are no longer useful as deadly instruments of policy.

WE are responsible for this, Americans. Remember that.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:13 PM on December 8, 2004


Fenriq: I thinky you're right. The military should train you for the rest of your life (and probably does for a large number of its members).

But for those lacking lifeskills, and/or intelligence the effect could be detrimental. Once they get out, they can't think for themseleves. I think the same thing happens to ex-cons who get parole after a few decades. They can't piss without permission. That's not a good thing.
posted by b_thinky at 5:15 PM on December 8, 2004


WE are responsible for this, Americans. Remember that.

I was against the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War from Day 1. Am I equally as responsible as George W. Bush or Don Rumsfeld or even millions of Bush voters? I mean, certainly, I'm willing to be responsible for a good, just, decent society as a whole -- it's why I'd rather my taxes go to things that would likely help decrease at least some causes of homelessness (a national health care system and affordable housing, say, rather than war and corporate welfare).

But I (and millions of others) neither made nor supported any of the decisions that led directly to this precise situation. So while I think we're actually pretty much in agreement, zoogleplex (saying we should try to keep them from having to do that, by not electing people who will send them off to war on a basis of lies, then abandon them when they are no longer useful as deadly instruments of policy is spot-on) I think it's important to challenge the idea that "we" are all collectively responsible (and therefore guilty) in the same general way. "America" as a single entity didn't perpetrate this war -- the U.S. government did, with the backing of a large (but far from unanimous) segment of the population. There is a difference.
posted by scody at 5:30 PM on December 8, 2004


Well, I was against it from day 1 and voted against these guys too - but the reality is that if you want to really be what I'd call a true American, meaning one who really understands the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the ideals this nation is supposed to stand for, then you have no choice but to accept responsibility for this, and every other action America takes.

Because We, The People, ARE the US Government. At least that's how it's supposed to work.

That may not be true anymore. But if it isn't, it's still the responsibility of the American people for not paying attention and participating in the government as we are actually duty-bound to. If it's out of our hands, it's because we gave it up.

Any way you slice it, it's our collective responsibility. It's infuriating that the actual perpetrators of the problem have put this on all our shoulders, but it is there nonetheless.

Anyone who didn't vote, you carry this too. If you're an American citizen over 18 years old, you don't get off the hook because you're too lazy to vote.

Too many of us refuse to accept responsibility for fallout like this, and that's why things are such a mess.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:42 PM on December 8, 2004


They're no longer useful to the military so they get discarded like trash.

Not just discharged, but charged too...if they wimp out and lose a kidney or some such nonsense. (page looks blank, but keep scrolling)

Konolia, I hope it doesn't come to this for the newest slew of vets.
and I also know someone whose name belongs there
posted by Cedric at 5:52 PM on December 8, 2004


I've seen some pretty nasty horror movies, konolia, but I don't think any of them even remotely compare to the reality of war.
posted by muckster at 5:55 PM on December 8, 2004


I'd have to agree, since in a war you actually get spattered with the blood and guts, and you have to smell hacked-up bodies, and oh yes the supersonic flying chunks of razor-sharp metal everywhere doesn't usually happen in a theater either, nor does the best sound system on earth reproduce the thunderous explosions and shockwaves therefrom.

You wanna see some horror, watch that opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, and try to add into your mind all those things I mentioned above, topped with the outright terror that anyone would feel having to be there and be running up that beach. And you still won't even be close.

I bawl every time I watch that, I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to be there.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:02 PM on December 8, 2004


Of course, all the pro war chickenhawks are running to help these veterans in dire need...or maybe are preparing some makegood-feelgood shows in which 3 out of 500k are helped and all the thing is quickly, very quickly forgotten.

After all in the last 2000 years people seem not to have learned much, as Horace revealed the Big Lie Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori( it is sweet and right to die for your country) more then 2000 years ago.
posted by elpapacito at 6:33 PM on December 8, 2004


Christ on a CRUTCH. Instead of going out an buying a fucking yellow ribbon magnet for your car, why don't you donate your money to people who can help these vets the next time you want to support our troops (that's to all you assholes with yellow ribbons on everything).
posted by Yellowbeard at 6:37 PM on December 8, 2004


If you want your perceptions (including some of the ones found in the posts above) challenged on the issue of homelessness among veterans, check out the research that's been done the last 15 years.

From http://www.nationalhomeless.org/veterans.html :

**"Approximately 33% of homeless men are veterans, although veterans comprise only 23% of the general adult male population."

**"Despite the overrepresentation of veterans in the homeless population, homelessness among veterans is not clearly related to combat military experience. Rather, studies show that homeless veterans appear less likely to have served in combat than housed veterans."

**"Similarly, despite the widespread perception that Vietnam-era veterans constitute the majority of homeless veterans, research indicates that the veterans who are at greatest risk of homelessness are those who served during the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era."
posted by availablelight at 6:37 PM on December 8, 2004


"I bawl every time I watch that, I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to be there."

Whew...my girlfriend at the time thought there was something wrong with me for having the same reaction!


I'm afraid this will probably get worse. The economy could tank and there's currently no end to our War On Terror. Bush and Co could be out of office and forgotten by the time the real impact on these vets manifests...
posted by black8 at 6:56 PM on December 8, 2004


The problem is that many who join the military join because they have no where else to go. It's a job. When they get out they're no better than they were when they went in.

If they had not joined the military they very well could have been homeless at 22 instead of 32. Serving in a volunteer army doesn't suddently give you life skills, and once they're discharged they're lost again. There's nothing in the contract that says the military is going to take care of you the rest of your life.

Instead of going out an buying a fucking yellow ribbon magnet for your car, why don't you donate your money to people who can help these vets the next time you want to support our troops (that's to all you assholes with yellow ribbons on everything).

Or instead of whining about it on metafilter?

1.studies show that homeless veterans appear less likely to have served in combat than housed veterans


2.research indicates that the veterans who are at greatest risk of homelessness are those who served during the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era

I'd be quick at blaming war itself -- and war is on the shoulder of our politicians.


And looks like you'd be quckly wrong.

We can discuss the horrors of war all we want:

You wanna see some horror, watch that opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, and try to add into your mind all those things I mentioned above, topped with the outright terror that anyone would feel having to be there and be running up that beach. And you still won't even be close.


It reads great but the real problem is if you have no skills and no military to take care of you you're screwed.
posted by justgary at 7:04 PM on December 8, 2004


my government smells like catbreath.
posted by quonsar at 7:05 PM on December 8, 2004


Part of me views homelessness as a calm complacency. No schedules, nothing to do but drift. I enjoyed my time in the military yet in many aspects it was as if I was serving time in an institution or prision and getting paid. Drifting around and spending time on the streets does have the aesthetic charm of nothingness.

Once the time in service is up, the lines and bloated overhead of the VA system can be a horrendous obstacle to even contemplate as a source for ?help? or ?assistance?.

God willing these folks all find what they are looking for or have lost.
posted by buzzman at 8:06 PM on December 8, 2004


What bothers me is that the cases that are brought to the public's attention are dealt with, what about the hundreds and thousands of cases that didn't media attention? They get ignored. Because there's no public relations problems with ignoring what no one knows about. A few get helped while the vast majority get shit.

War is hell, war sucks, war should be a last resort. In Iraq it wasn't the last resort, it was an eagerly preplanned invasion and occupation.

To lie (war as a last resort) and then lie some more (stop-loss fine print shenanigans) for what is essentially the colonization of Iraq and then continue to mistreat soldiers seriously hurt in the line of that dubious duty. I just don't get how Bush maintains support.
posted by fenriq at 8:21 PM on December 8, 2004


About ten years ago I knew of a homeless vet here locally who actually got a check every month from the government, and did not have to be homeless. He preferred camping out under the overpasses,etc and living outside. He would come into my workplace (Waffle House) and have a cup of coffee occasionally. Once someone tried to give him money. He went ballistic-long story short wouldn't take it....as far as I know he is still out there.

Maybe we shouldn't wait for the government to do something. Maybe as citizens and community members we should figure out how to help these guys before it gets to the point they would rather live outside than in society.

I don't know, I am just rambling...my friend's brother actually put on Band of Brothers and chose a particular part of it to kill himself during.
posted by konolia at 8:35 PM on December 8, 2004


konolia ... what an awful thing to have happened

i think a lot of vets feel like outsiders ... and i've known homeless people who preferred to live like that, too

buzzman ... that nothingness and peacefulness is something people can become homeless for ... especially if they're not handling things well ... i know this from my own experience
posted by pyramid termite at 8:48 PM on December 8, 2004


konolia, my condolences for your loss. How terrible for you and your friend! I am so deeply sorry for you and for all the friends and families who have to bear these losses - both here and in Iraq.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:03 PM on December 8, 2004



It reads great but the real problem is if you have no skills and no military to take care of you you're screwed.


They don't have to be screwed. I think if we have asked men to risk their lives and their bodies in combat, we should absolutely take care of them and ensure that they have at least a minimal standard of living. We owe them at least that much.
posted by rks404 at 9:43 PM on December 8, 2004


To lie (war as a last resort) and then lie some more (stop-loss fine print shenanigans) for what is essentially the colonization of Iraq and then continue to mistreat soldiers seriously hurt in the line of that dubious duty. I just don't get how Bush maintains support.

Fenriq, face it, most Americans are ignorant and stupid; some are ignorant, stupid, and vicious and spiteful. They're taught to be that way, and they like it. And I'm not excepting bourgeois liberals: by and large they're just ignorant, stupid, vicious and spiteful in a slightly different, more high-falutin'-sounding way.

By the way, is "neoconservativism" still an "entryist" Trotskyite conspiracy?
posted by davy at 10:35 PM on December 8, 2004


I blame the Left who seem to have so much disdain and hate for our service men and women. This homelessness most likely the result of structural discrimination caused by this hatred.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 3:50 AM on December 9, 2004


I blame the Right who seem to have so much disdain and hate for our service men and women. This homelessness most likely the result of structural discrimination caused by this hatred.
posted by elpapacito at 5:03 AM on December 9, 2004


b_thinky, part of the deal with going into the military is that they are supposed to train you for the rest of your life.

Wherever did you get that thought? And what does it mean? The military should give you skills your parents failed to? Keep in mind that the military is made up of people, and people are not perfect.

I blame the Left
I blame the Right


Blame is of no use as it accomplishes nothing.

The Dept of Veterans Affairs needs help, and they aren't getting it. It is a broken system that needs to be over hauled and flushed out of the people abusing it.
Case in point. A guy I met that works for the State of MA in the DET (employment&training) who can walk, has both arms and legs, 10 fingers and 10 toes, AND IS COLLECTING an 80% DISABILITY CHECK EVERY MONTH!!! That just pisses me off.

I myself joined the American Legion and try to help through them. It isn't much, but it is something.

Sorry for the rant.
posted by a3matrix at 5:42 AM on December 9, 2004


a3matrix, I'm not sure but I think they mention that starting out in the Army is a great leg up on life and, in other commercials, they talk about the military getting you jumpstarted in life.

davy, you may be right but damn, it just makes the world such a bleaker place that I've gotta try and give the benefit of the doubt.
posted by fenriq at 7:52 AM on December 9, 2004


Yes, they really do sell the military as the great place to get excellent job training and get a head-start on life, coming out with employable job skills and work experience and leadership ability. Which for some people is probably true, although I wonder about how many of the very specific military job skills translate into civilian jobs.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:16 AM on December 9, 2004


WE are responsible for this, Americans. Remember that.

Fuck that. I voted for a Vietnam Vet who made it part of his damned campaign platform to increase benefits to our service men. This is the republicans' mess. Yes, we'll have to end up cleaning up after the mess baby, but let's try and keep in mind that this could have been avoided.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:21 PM on December 9, 2004


I blame the Left who seem to have so much disdain and hate for our service men and women. This homelessness most likely the result of structural discrimination caused by this hatred.

Uh, drscroogemcduck, you have no idea what you're talking about. Try explaining to me what you mean by structural discrimination.

Because I have administered the Mainstream and Designated Housing Section 8 programs for people with disabilities (lots of veterans), I am very familiar with the politicians who fund them and those who don't. Under Bush, Section 8 Programs are losing funding. I don't trust Bush when it comes to funding the VA either.
Kerry, on the other hand, seemed willing to pour funding to both veterans and the homeless. (When I was working on these programs, he even attended our rally opposing S-8 budget cuts made during Bush's first few years in office.)
If you think that paying lip service to the patriotism of veterans is enough to solve this problem, you obviously have no fucking clue what the issues really are.

Okay, here are the issues that need to be addressed.

1. The VA needs more funding to address the psychological/psychiatric needs of the soldiers coming back. Here is an overview of what soldiers face when they return from combat. They get a very rudimentary evaluation based on a simple questionaire that doesn't accurately determine whether they are suffering from PTSD or whether the PTSD is the cause of a (federally defined) disability. The VA also needs to rework its evaluation method for determining the benefit payments for soldiers receiving disability because it's apparent that many soldiers are receiving something like a 30-50% when they should be receiving more. It's my understanding, based on a few years of casework that I've done with individuals who receive disability payments (from SSI or VA,) that their needs are reevaluated on an annual basis. So when they receive their initial evaluation, doctors needn't err on the side of caution in underestimating their disability (on the presumption that they will recover.)

2. The best solution for housing veterans is pouring money into federally funded housing programs. Because we are at war, the administration ought to presume that there will be an influx in need for housing assistance. The best way to address this is with the Section 8 program. Plus, additional funding is needed to support the Olmstead Act, which requires agencies to help move people with disabilities out of assisted living arrangements into community settings when the individual is capable of more independent living arrangments.
posted by sophie at 1:43 PM on December 9, 2004


face it, most Americans are ignorant and stupid

Face it, most Canadians are ignorant and stupid.

Face it, most Britons are ignorant and stupid.

Face it, most Australians are ignorant and stupid.

Face it, most New Zealanders are ignorant and stupid.

Face it, most Europeans are ignorant and stupid.

Face it, most people are ignorant and stupid.

America doesn't have a monopoly on ignorant and stupid; don't pretend that Americans are automatically stupider than the citizens of any other country (or even you).
posted by oaf at 8:51 PM on December 11, 2004


« Older Animated iPod enthusiasm   |   Learn to say PENIS in Over 50 Languages! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post