Homeless Vets: Supporting Which Troops?

An interesting post on Vox Nova on homelessness among military vets draws the usual St Blog’s suspects having a hard time getting their heads around the fact that vets are represented among the homeless population more than twice as much as the general public. This story in the local print media also caught my eye the other day.

Policraticus uses a few terms I might alter.

Somehow, I think the “Support our Troops” attitude is a bit inauthentic in this country.  I’m told they fight for our freedom.  Then why do we enslave them once they are done fighting?

I’d call the slogan more exploitation than showing a lack of authenticity. I have parents, a brother, uncles, cousins, and close friends who have served in the military. I don’t need to be a vet to be critical of politicians, conservatives, or anyone else who tries to explain away a lack of support for women and men who served their country.

Violence takes a toll on a human being. Even justified violence deemed necessary will injure the person delivering it. Every pacifist knows and understands this. Many vets are also victims of violence.

Regarding the situation of homeless veterans, we can make some assessments:

– Clearly the present administration and previous ones have far understated the cost of waging war. While this current administration struggles to give the military what it needs for protection (much less waging a successful war) they ignore the cost of war at home. In this, they are not so unlike the clergy of the “Great Generation” who employed women religious at slave wages only to have a national retirement collection make up the difference when the demographics and the market sorted things out.

– We don’t have to look any further than the conduct of military hospitals and the system for caring for veterans’ medical needs once they return to society. My brother could tell you stories.

– Republicans seem content to use the military personnel when it suits their purpose: getting cheap oil, attacking Democrats, making an ideological point. And they’re pleased to ensure the shadow side of waging war stays deep in the shadows. “Support the Troops” is a sham for most of them. Exploitation is the name of the game.

– When the facts are too difficult to accept, use any obfuscation possible, especially if you’re in the Catholic commentariat: 500,000 homeless vets are “miniscule,” says a vet himself … another commenter suggests that the homeless vets must be lying (as if the US government actually interviews all 300 million Americans to find out what it needs to know) …

One commenter actually does get it:

Why veterans are over-represented among the homeless population (particularly given their lower than average poverty rate) is an interesting question. It is not, however, one I have the answer to.

At least with this, we have honesty: “There’s a problem here, and I don’t have the answer.” From there, one can assume a willingness to find the answer. Such a willingness would identify a person as a “supporter.” Bush administration, conservative Catholic bloggers, and “miniscule” men: take the other side, please.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Homeless Vets: Supporting Which Troops?

  1. John Heavrin says:

    Are they homeless because they’ve been abandoned by the government, or because they insist on being homeless, due to psychosis from drug or alcohol addiction? I wonder what the percentage of homeless, veterans or not, are out there for that reason. Overwhelming, I’d guess.

    Many homeless, odd and sad as it seems, choose to be out there. Short of a return of institutionalization policy, what can be done to “solve” the problem? You can give a guy five bucks, but you can’t make him straighten up, can you?

    We have a duty to help the poor, but it seems foolish to ignore the reality, which is that homeless people are often choosing, however irrationally, to be out there. Why I don’t know. Should we force them under a roof somewhere? Maybe we should. As for laying it on the “Bush Administration,” I seem to recall seeing panhandlers during the Clinton years, and I’m sure I will during the Clinton restoration.

  2. John Heavrin says:

    I’d guess, by the way, that very few of the homeless vets out there are veterans of the current war…mostly Vietnam vets or older, I would think.

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