I am a veteran. I was in the U.S. Navy from 1982 to 1984. I am now homeless. And, like most homeless veterans, my tour of duty did not cause me to become homeless. You would be hard pressed to find any person who became homeless as a direct result of their military service. So, I don’t really see how the country could be held responsible for our homelessness. On the other hand, the fact that these homeless veterans did serve the country, stood on the line between the U.S. and any potential enemy, all for relatively poor pay and less than desirable living conditions, perhaps the country, as a show of respect for veterans, should provide services to the veterans who are currently homeless – should lift them back up to an honorable living situation.
The one problem I have regarding the discussion of homeless veterans, that is, of separating the homeless population into different kinds (homeless veterans as one kind, homeless families as another kind, homeless teens, homeless gays, homeless addicts, homeless mentally ill, etc.), is that this act unwittingly leads to people passing judgment on homeless people based on what kind they are, and determining that some homeless people are more deserving of help than others. Or, even worse, deciding that some homeless people don’t deserve any help.
There currently exists programs for homeless veterans, and these programs exclude everyone else. There are programs for homeless alcoholics that also exclude everyone else. Programs for teens, programs for families, programs for the mentally ill – all excluding other types of homeless people. Because of this there are many homeless people who don’t fit into any of these categories and so are unable to receive the kind of help that other homeless people do.
The entire homeless population is not so large that we cannot afford to help all homeless people regardless of type. It time to help all homeless people because, after all, they are all people.