Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Okay, you are a homeless veteran. Now what?

WHAT IS A VETERAN? A veteran - whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount "up to, and including his life..." - leaflet handed out at VA Medical Center, Temple, Texas

When you tuck yourself in tonight, wherever that may be, just remember. You are one in a million, part of a subset of human beings who are totally different from the rest of the population, a human being who once wrote the government a blank check on your life, bet you would come up winners, and survived.

Now what?

The odds are against your locating a decent home. So? You're a warrior. How do you win the war? You survive. You live well. Keep on slugging, soldier.

Half a million of the 1.6 million veterans who have returned from service in Afghanistan and Iraq live on an income that is below the poverty level and pay at least half of that meager income in rent. More than half are living below the poverty level, qualify for and receive food stamps.

Forty-five percent of these warriors have applied for a disability pension, sums of which may amount to as little as a 10% rating paying $127 per month, to a full rating, which pays $2,769 per month.

According to the flowery literature on the internet, it takes 8 months for the approval of a pension claim.

Most veterans of earlier wars will look at you and laugh. They know it takes years – years upon years – to perfect such a claim.

There are some factors that are not good medicine for what you face.

Veterans who are aged 18 to 30 are twice as likely to be homeless; half suffer a mental illness, usually combat-related or somehow related to their war time experience. Two-thirds suffer from a dual diagnosis of both substance abuse and mental illness. Such a deal.

It's hard to focus on solving your problems when you're dead drunk.

Pretty soon, you're dead, period, locked up, or hung up in some kind of intervention program that guarantees you won't be free of meetings, urine tests, therapy sessions, medication - and various other little attitude checks - for a long time to come.

Is there a way out?

You bet there is.

Thinking about hurting yourself, or someone else, won't cut it. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK, EXT. 1, 24/7, and talk to a trained counselor who can help you think of an alternative. Almost anything is better than what you're thinking about, hoss. Change a thought, your feelings will follow suit. www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/veterans

Feel like you got pitched in the GI can? Sgt. Chuck Luther has had a successful experience assisting soldiers who are wrongfully discharged and thereby denied benefits. You can find him at Ft. Hood, where he has taken rapid action on behalf of thousands of soldiers. Call – 254-258-3618, or visit chuckluther@clear.net

This is known as “the Craigslist for veterans in need.” Soldiers and their families will be able to post a note at SoldiersAngels.com about something they need. Civilians will be in a position to fill that need. Examples: the electric bill, moving expenses, office equipment. These folks have been doing it since 2007. They have a track record.

USA CARES 800-773-0387 info@usacares.org
Like SoldiersAngels, USA Cares connects directly with military families in need. To fill out an assistance request, www.usacares.org/assistance-request

GATHERING OF EAGLES – Laptops for Wounded Warriors
Dawn West, program coordinator: eaglesvt@gmail.com Facebook page: http://bit.ly/gatheringofeagles

Helps when you have a laptop. Just about any library, McDonald's, restaurant, courthouse or community college has WiFi. We're talking portable commo center. You're in business. These folks make laptops available to vets who are recovering in a VA medical center.

Check out a piece by Eric Levy of WTKR/CBS in Virginia: http://bit.ly/gatheringofeaglesvideo

There is more, to be sure, but it all starts with understanding and taking advantage of your legal rights.

These are the folks who train the Veterans Service Officers. They got Vietnam Vets Agent Orange Benefits, PTSD treatment and benefits, and they're working on a lot of problems that apply directly to veterans of the mideast wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other pressure points in that troubled region. You could learn to present your case.

P.O. Box 6572, Washington, D.C. 20035 202-265-8305 www.nvlsp.org or info@nvlsp.org

There is more. Way more. Try calling 800-423-2111, and ask if you can see a counselor in the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.


  1. I am a Vietnam-Era Veteran, living in my car with my car for about six weeks now. I am getting to the point of hopelessness. Each day that passes I get more tired and less interested in what used to get me excited. I feel forgotten, alone and clueless.

    Somebody help me find a place for me and kitty.
    Bless you all.

  2. If calling was a job then I would be richer than Trump. As it is, I am at the point of hopelessness. I am in my car with my cat and she is the only thing keeping from hurting myself. I am gentle but I am tired now and sick of rhetoric and most of all, no place to live.

  3. Go to the Temple VAMC and ask to be screened for the Domiciliary. Follow the rules, try to get along, and qualify for CWT, "compensated work therapy," which pays minimum wage and leads to finding a home and a place in the community. Good luck, man. If nobody told you, I'm real glad you got home alive - all the way live, dude. - The Legendary