They stand on street corners and live in alleys, sometimes dressed in military regalia holding up signs which read “HOMELESS, ANYTHING HELPS”. This is the plight of almost 50,000 homeless veterans in America. How is it that this many men and women can fall into despair after rendering military service to one of the world’s wealthiest nations?
The word from the Veterans Administration (VA) is they plan to reduce the number of homeless veterans to zero. Armed with more than $200 million in funds, the VA plans on getting these vets back to their families and off the streets. Observers note that their heart is in the right place, but would rather wait for results first before celebrating.
Part of the VA’s plan is to tap peer specialists to serve as advisors and role models to struggling veterans. Their job is to reach out to them for moral support and encouragement. One such veteran is Anthony Parker, who left the Army in 1989 due to a knee injury. His addiction to pain medication got him in and out of shelters and rehabilitation before turning his life around. His mentoring has helped countless veterans
What can we do?
The public needs to change their perspective about homeless people. If you should encounter a veteran on the street, refer them to any of the veterans disability lawyers or advocacy groups nearby. Instead of turning a blind eye to them, let’s show compassion and concern, veteran or otherwise.