It is Not All Bad News
Photo by Toni Anderson from the 2008 Photo Project.
I was listening to Bob Edwards weekend this morning on WCPN. His second hour was all about homeless veterans mostly in DC (you can listen here for $2.95).
It made me start thinking about how we treat our veterans in America. As a frequent visitor to our nation's capital, I am always amazed by the number of homeless people sleeping in the parks, but also how many veterans there are in DC. It is almost like these guys heard a calling that if they moved to the home city of their commander and chief all their problems would be solved. After all, the Defense department and the veterans administration are both headquartered in DC. Every soldier knows that if they are injured but can make it back to HQ, they will be saved.
The Obama Administration has big plans to end veteran's homelessness in the next five years (five years sooner than all the plans from the Bush Administration). There is a big summit in DC in the fall to talk about the plans. The VA has dramatically improved their website to provide more information to veterans in need of housing, and they have given out thousands of housing vouchers to veterans.
While it is true that no veteran should become homeless in United States, we have not done a very bad job serving this population. In most cities, including Cleveland, the Department of Veteran's Affairs runs a model program that other systems should replicate. Yes, people fall through the cracks and staff are not always the most compassionate, but the system is comprehensive. There are outreach workers, shelters, transitional facilities, treatment, mental health counseling, jobs programs, health care, and housing vouchers. We have the Brecksville facility in Cleveland which is just beautiful. It is peaceful and a nice place to recover and rejoin society. There are holes in the system, but it is some higher level of respect for those veterans who have served in the military. I hope that we can end homelessness for veterans and take the lessons learned to end homelessness for everyone.
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