Our Heroes Have Become Our Homeless Veterans


It is now illegal to be poor and homeless

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, over 60 American cities have essentially made it criminal to be poor, introducing measures to make it illegal to beg or sleep on the street, to sit in bus shelters for more than an hour, to stand on the corner soliciting work and some cities, including Las Vegas, have made it illegal to feed the homeless in parks and other public places; this is a gross violation of federal anti-discrimination laws unless such draconian measures are uniformly applied to citizens of all economic status, including making it illegal to feed relatives and children or to share food with friends at a public picnic area, as well.

Meanwhile, neither the Republican or Democratic Party has any plan whatsoever directly addressing America’s growing homeless population, nor are the homeless, including homeless war veterans, even mentioned as a priority in their party platform agendas…

It is estimated by veterans groups that as of January, 2005, there are approximately 230,000 homeless war veterans in America. Homeless veterans from the current conflict in Iraq are already showing up at public beaches, parks and in city shelters and due to this conflict, the problem is expected to grow dramatically in the next several years…


Who are Homeless Veterans?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says homeless veterans are mostly males (2% are females). The vast majority are single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45% suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Forty-seven percent of homeless veterans served during the Viernam Era. More than 67% served our country for at least three years and 33% were stationed in a war zone.

Although accurate numbers are impossible to come by…no one keeps nation records on homeless veterans…the VA estimated that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And more than half a million experence homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless males who is sleeping in a doorway, alley, or box in our cities and rular communities has put on a uniform and served our country…now they need America to remember them

This information was gathered from The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. You can visit their web site for this and more statistics on homeless veterans at http://www.nchv.org/background.cfm


The many forgotten hero’s who have served to protect our country and individual freedoms that many of us take for granted everyday.

We met Oscar near downtown Grand Rapids. Oscar is a Vietnam era veteran who served in combat in Cambodia in the 70’s. Oscar served in the Marine Corp, and was honorably discharged with the rank a sergeant. He earned four medals for his service. Oscar has been married for 13 years and has children. Oscar is also homeless. He is a casualty of war. I had intended to go into his life story at this point, but do I need to. The fact that he is a veteran, a hero and homeless should say it all. The only thing that he asked of us was how could he help us help veterans. Oscar was one of many veterans we talked to. Most of them had the same attitude. If one thing was clear today that even homeless a veteran will leave no one behind. Neither will we! Neither should you!




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