Sunday, February 20, 2011


A homeless veteran in New York City-- Photo by Jonathan Greenwald

Twice as likely to be homeless than the general population—so concludes a recent study by the Veterans Administration and HUD. 1 On a single night in 2009, the count was 75,609 homeless vets. Of these 11,300 were more recent arrivals from the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. When our trained warriors come home, many find they are homeless. Almost half of these homeless don’t even want the confines of a shelter, so they stay on the streets. Currently, the backlog of VA disability cases climbs above 700,000 [NPR report on Veteran’s Day 2010 2 ]. The cause—burgeoning Post Traumatic Stress Disorder cases, and the federal budget crunch. Our people who’ve been close to the violence of combat, return wounded in soul, whether it’s themselves, their buddies, or their enemies, they’ve seen blown apart.

A boy carries his belongings next to the rubble of his home destroyed in a U.S. air strike in the village of Azizabad of Herat province on Aug 23, 2008. (Fraidoon Pooyaa-Associated Press)

The kicking in doors, shooting people, and blowing up things they’ve been part of has to leave a huge dent in their hearts. Returning stateside to families and community who’ve no real idea of what they’ve been through, leaves them isolated, and often not knowing if they can control themselves given the violence they’ve endured.

ome choose the lonely streets as the only safe way they can find, for themselves, and others, even and especially in their immediate families. In this way, war has been extremely damaging to family values, in our homeland, and undeniably in the far-off neighborhoods our soldiers have seen destroyed. There are no family values to be found in war.
Family Values-sculpture by Alexsander Danel
These veterans left homeless are sad testimony to our Pentagon’s use them, then lose them strategy. Wars now are off-budget, unaccounted for, unpaid for--launched on a business model that views a few speculators’ profit as maximizable, and the soldier as re-deployable, then expendable.

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
--- Martin Luther King, from his “Beyond Vietnam” speech April 4, 1967. He was assassinated exactly one year later.

“Love your enemy, pray for them that persecute you.” Mt 5:43

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

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