Wednesday, October 29, 2008

HOMELESS VETERANS AND FUTURE HOMELESS VETERANS BEING IGNORED IN RECENT U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

HOMELESS VETERANS AND FUTURE HOMELESS VETERANS BEING IGNORED IN RECENT U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

By Kevin A. Stoda

As America faces the 2008 Presidential elections next Tuesday, the issue of homeless war veterans in America is often ignored. This is why it is more than appropriate that BBC has decided this October 29, 2008 to begin a multipart program on America’s 150,000 homeless veterans—homeless from recent and ancient wars.

Neither Bush, Obama nor McCain are currently trying to seriously disentangle the U.S immediately from creating more troubled vets by demanding an end to U.S. wars in the furthest corners of the planet. (Obama seems to be supporting Bush’s policy in Afghanistan—as does McCain.)

You can download BBC’s THE HOMELESS VETERANS here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/w0bv6mt7

or at

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/documentaries/2008/09/081027_lostveterans_doc.shtml

The BBC’s THE HOMELESS VETERANS is a fairly multicultural presentation--with veterans from many different cultural backgrounds and experiencing a great variety of stages of PTSD involved in dissecting the issues that returning veterans face.

http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/ptsd/alert.asp

In 2006 an internal report for the DOD admitted that the VA was overwhelmed because such a high number of veterans were coming home from the Gulf and Afghanistan with PTSD and other problems from war experience.

That is, these soldiers were obviously victims of a traditional military hostility to recognizing the PTSD issues and their enormity for decades.

The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) define Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) as: “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.”

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
One speaker on the BBC program on veterans stated that far-too-many Vietnam veterans had historically been so disappointed with the VA that they had often simply walked away in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s—and not necessarily to homes.

Although there has been some improvement recently in the speed in which claims are handled, compensation for war veterans returning back to the US continues to take much longer than most other types of claims for assistance through the VA (Veterans Administration). http://www1.va.gov/Homeless/

This is frustrating and as one formerly homeless vet stated, “It’s almost criminal in our country that this still happens.”


BOTTOM LINE FOR AMERICA

According to BBC, “The current conflicts are already swelling this vagrant population - as more soldiers reach their point of discharge from the army. When the process of eventual withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan begins, it's likely to put further strain on an overburdened system. Almost half of these 'lost veterans' have drug abuse problems and over a third have serious psychiatric disorders. Many have been to prison.”

The case of Phil Northcutt is just one of many personal interviews shared on the program, “In 2006, Phil Northcutt was sent to jail for growing marijuana. The only drug which stopped the recurring nightmares of his time in Iraq. He was imprisoned for 11 months. When the Marine Corps offered him an 'other than honorable' discharge, meaning the loss of benefits, he took it. Andrew Purcell spoke to many of those, like Phil, trying to get back on track. He finds out more about their struggles reintegrating into civilian society, and why they feel abandoned by the US military.”

According to U.S.A TODAY, U.S. war veterans already make up 1 in 4 of the homeless adults in the U.S.A.—i.e. a land that spends a lot on war and new military technologies, but consistently fails to put away money for taking care of victims afterwardss

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-11-07-homeless-veterans_N.htm


HOPEFUL WEBSITES FOR VETERANS IN TROUBLE

Here are some websites for veterans, their families and friends:

NATIONAL COALITION OF HOMELESS VETERANS http://www.nchv.org/

HOMELESS VETERANS, RESOURCE GUIDE http://members.aol.com/veterans/warlib6z.htm

NEW ENGLAND VETERANS SHELTER http://www.neshv.org/

MIDWEST VETS HOMELESS SHELTER http://www.helpaveteran.org/

HUDVET STATE AND LOCAL RESOURCES, Colorado http://nhl.gov/offices/cpd/about/hudvet/state/co/index.cfm

MILITARY TRANSITION HOMELESS VETS http://www.careeronestop.org/MILITARYTRANSITION/homelessVets.aspx

HOMELESS VETS-BENEFITS http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/homeless-veterans-programs

NATIONAL ALLIANCE TO END HOMELESSNESS, http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/1837

NATIONAL COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS http://www.nationalhomeless.org/

U.S. Department of Labor: Veterans Employment and Training Services http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/hvrp/main.htm

Washington HOMELESS VETERAN SERVICES http://www.dva.wa.gov/homeless_veteran_services.html


I would suggest that readers suggest other important organizations for homeless and troubled veterans in the comment or discussion section at bottom of this article.

It is also important to find veteran legal and other support sites, with the intention of sharing them on line with others, esp. if these sites have a particular interest or twist. Here is a site that shares the legal process and rights of veterans and housing rights.

http://cryptome.org/va100808.htm


NOTES

HUD Veteran Resource Center, http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/about/hudvet/

Overview of Homeless Veterans, http://www1.va.gov/homeless/page.cfm?pg=1

O’Reilly Downplays Numbers on Homeless Vets, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-rieckhoff/oreilly-downplays-number_b_81900.html

Story: “ . . . Nearly 200,000 per Night” , http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/07/national/main3470649.shtml

Veterans for Commonsense video, http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org/blogid/4834

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