Vets Make Up 25% of Homeless Population

  1. http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=3835347

    If this is true, then it is very very sad. Our vets deserve better than this.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Cursed Irishman
    Quote from Arwen_U
    If this is true, then it is very very sad. Our vets deserve better than this.
    The following is my opinion and only my opinion:

    I'm not to sure I agree. Being a vet has a WHOLE lot of benefits, however one must still apply themselves to use them and realize that life doesn't end when they get their DD214 (discharge paperwork). Alot of vets I've seen who have fallen by the wayside did so because when they got out, they failed to continue to grow mentally and socially. An attitude of "I was in the military, I DESERVE everything" is very pervasive. At some point, vets must move on by remembering their past but working towards their future. The military sets a person up well for a good future: education is more accessible, owning a house is more attainable, and some work experience is already had. The problems come about when vets fail to realize that while their service is commendable, it should not be the sole defining moment of their lives.
    Last edit by Cursed Irishman on Nov 8, '07
  4. by   ElvishDNP
    Thanks for that perspective. I have no military experience so it's nice to hear from someone who does.

    Tell me, if you can, what kind of debriefing or counseling is there for returning combat vets? I can imagine that if I were returning from horrific scenes or war - or maybe even just one incident that really shook me - and didn't know how to assimilate that into my existence, I might have a hard time 'pulling it together.'

    I'm not arguing with you, please don't take it that way. Just asking if you can enlighten me on that.
  5. by   Cursed Irishman
    What occurs now is based alot on what didn't happen to previous vets. Nowadays psych services are offered very readily through VA, but for the first couple years of this war VA was doing what it did for Vietnam Vets: dope 'em up and send them on their way. From my experience, I had to repeatedly visit VA asking to talk to someone instead of just getting medication (I came home end of 2005, went to VA the day after I got home, was prescribed some pills and sent on my way, it was mid 2006 before I got to talk to a VA psychologist regularly). Finally, the local VA got their act together and set up a whole team of psych specialists to handle all newly returning vets. But even now, the mental health teams are overburdened and understaffed.

    One of the problems w/ the VA, from my vantagepoint, is theyre behind the times in medication management: for instance, the VA does not prescribe non-narcotic sleeping aids such as ambien, they rely on trazedone (sp?) as their standby. This creates a mindset of addiction and self medication.

    One of the major problems is the research shows signs of PTSD do not show up until at least three months after returning home. Prior to leaving the theatre of operations, all service members are advised "go see a mental health professional when you get home". When they get home, servicemembers are just happy to be home and blow off seeing anybody about their experiences. While the stigma of going to a head doc is less these days, alot of vets think theyre ok and dont seek any kind of treatment. Over time the signs/symptoms get worse, but the vet still refuses to get treatment because its seen as a flaw, both internally or in the military culture.

    There are other issues that come into play as well, but this has been a long post as it is.
  6. by   ElvishDNP
    Tis very enlightening, Irishman. Thanks for that insight.

    Do you think it makes a difference in how returning war vets are treated now vs. 40-ish years ago when they returned from Viet Nam and got spat on and worse? In terms of the % of homeless, I mean...

    Again, not arguing. Just trying to learn.

    My dad is a vet, but from the 'Chair Force' (his words, not mine) and he never saw combat. My stepdad is a WWII vet but doesn't talk about it much, so I have little knowledge other than what I've read. I really appreciate your views.
  7. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from Cursed Irishman
    The following is my opinion and only my opinion:

    I'm not to sure I agree. Being a vet has a WHOLE lot of benefits, however one must still apply themselves to use them and realize that life doesn't end when they get their DD214 (discharge paperwork). Alot of vets I've seen who have fallen by the wayside did so because when they got out, they failed to continue to grow mentally and socially. An attitude of "I was in the military, I DESERVE everything" is very pervasive. At so, me point, vets must move on by remembering their past but working towards their future. The military sets a person up well for a good future: education is more accessible, owning a house is more attainable, and some work experience is already had. The problems come about when vets fail to realize that while their service is commendable, it should not be the sole defining moment of their lives.
    Deserve everything? What constitutes everything? Decent medical care, programs to help these people who fought for the American dream to actually be able to afford to live the American dream by way of home and education financing programs, and advantages that afford them some priority in obtaining government jobs? I happen to think that they do deserve all that.

    I also hate with a passion the fact that so many vets with mental illness developed it in whole or in part as the result of the horrendous things they saw and/or had to do in the name of the service they provided to this country.
  8. by   Cursed Irishman
    Quote from mercyteapot
    Deserve everything? What constitutes everything? Decent medical care, programs to help these people who fought for the American dream to actually be able to afford to live the American dream by way of home and education financing programs, and advantages that afford them some priority in obtaining government jobs? I happen to think that they do deserve all that.

    I also hate with a passion the fact that so many vets with mental illness developed it in whole or in part as the result of the horrendous things they saw and/or had to do in the name of the service they provided to this country.
    I agree that there should be perks for military service, having used my military service to pay for 2 degrees and buy a house at the age of 28. However, what other member of society can rely on four years of their life to supplement the rest of their years? Not too many, nor should there be many.

    The services are there for veterans to be a success, however not all of them use it. In fact, its an accepted truth in the military community that if all servicemembers used the GI Bill benefits, the funding would go bankrupt. The people who administer the GI Bill count on most vets not using it. I'm curious how many of these homeless vets used their GI Bill or home loan. How many continued self enriching and how many simply stagnated, resting on the laurels or drowning in the sorrows of their service. At some point, these vets must be accountable for their own actions or inaction.

    Unlike the image mass media has cultivated in society, most people join the military for purely selfish reasons, not out of some sense of patriotic duty. With a volunteer force, all servicemembers know the risks when they sign up. This in by no means is an exscuse to toss them aside if they develop medical problems from their service. But there are alot of people who try to ride real or percieved medical issues for the rest of their lives. For instance, there was a soldier in my unit who went to sickcall everyday for 19 days following an attack, complaining of different ailments everyday. Finally the doc asked him what it is the soldier wanted. Turns out, the soldier wanted a purple heart and needed the med paperwork for it. The doc said fine and wrote him the charts to fullfil the claim, just to stop him from wasting valuable time. Now this soldier, who had been assessed 18 different times w/ no notable injuries went around gloating about how he was getting a purple heart and would get all the benifits of it for life. Incidents along these lines are very common, especially when it comes time to be discharged/retire.

    I firmly believe that there are very few soldiers who develop mental health problems due solely to their service. In my laymen's opinion, war only exacerbates issues that were already present. For instance, the soldier who drinks heavily before going to war is more prone to rely on alcohol as a form of escapism when he gets back instead of seeking treatment.

    Sorry for the excessive rant.
  9. by   mercyteapot
    Honestly, it doesn't make one whit of difference to me why anyone joins the military. The fact that they do is good enough. I have a 15 year old son, and I don't want him to face a draft. I appreciate those who will put their lives on the line so he doesn't have to. It is, to me, akin to people who choose to be firefighters or police officers. I want them to be paid well, do their job well, and keep me safe. Cutting corners at their expense at budget time is disgraceful.

    I understand that the benefits are there for the taking if only vets choose to use them. That's part of mental illness, though, the refusal or inability to effectively use the resources at one's disposal. I don't think we do a good enough job of preventing or treating mental illness in anyone, but especially in our veterans. Expecting people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps is especially inane if we were the ones who took their boots away in the first place.
  10. by   Cursed Irishman
    I think the article illustrates a wonderful point when you think about it. The young Iraq vet who moved to California without a job lined up nor a place to live. Take out the fact he's a veteran. Now, what does it say about him when he makes the not so intelligent decision to move to another state without having a job or housing lined up and ends up homeless? That is a failure of decision making. His veteran status should not have any bearing on where his choices post-military have taken him. Plenty of people make the same lackluster decision, but somehow because he is a veteran he deserves more resources? I'm sorry, but I just don't agree.
    Last edit by Cursed Irishman on Nov 9, '07
  11. by   pickledpepperRN
    I volunteer and write checks to the Union Rescue mission. More than half the homeless men are veterans.
    In my limited experience almost all the increasing numbers of Iraq war vets suffered a head injury and/or abuse alcohol or drugs. They are estranged from their families. These are very sad people. I would say depressed.

    Shelters take many vets of Iraq, Afghan wars - http://www.boston.com/news/local/art...q_afghan_wars/

    Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans- http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/08/us...ss&oref=slogin

    If Escondido City Council members Marie Waldron, Sam Abed and Ed Gallo truly want to keep Escondido homeless-free, they are going to have to first rid the city of its veterans. - http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007...6_272_8_07.txt
  12. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from Cursed Irishman
    ...but somehow because he is a veteran he deserves more resources?
    To answer your question in one word... yes!

    To elaborate on that one word, the article doesn't say that he had a job lined up in Wisconsin either, does it? It is jumping to conclusions to assume that if he had stayed in Wisconsin, he'd be any less homeless. How foolish of him to have left the security of steady employment in Iraq without having another job lined up, wasn't it, now?
  13. by   ElvishDNP
    Having fought with depression, I can sympathize with those vets (and civilians for that matter, but since the topic is vets...) who find themselves spiraling further and further downward with no real idea of how to get out. Sometimes it is not just so simple as 'making the right choice' or pulling it together or whatever.

    When you are that low, you don't see things clearly. You don't make choices that you'd make were you in your 'right mind,' because you're not in your right mind. Some days just getting out of bed is a victory. I was suicidal, and I had a plan.

    It was that bad for me, and I didn't even see my best friend's head get blown off, and I didn't have to decide whether that woman approaching me with a baby in her arms was also carrying an IED under the baby. I can't imagine what it's like, and I do think vets deserve better than what they get. I do think psych/mental health should be more readily available (not just pills). I'd be willing to have my tax dollars go to that rather than gold-plated toilet seats for my congressmen.

    Better yet, let's get the h*** out of the wars and do away with the need for PTSD counseling....
  14. by   HM2VikingRN

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