Ron Harris reports that veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are increasingly showing up homeless at shelters and agencies across the nation. I include an excerpt:
As the nearly 1.5 million military personnel who have been deployed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to return home, more are expected to join the ranks of the estimated 195,000 homeless veterans, Veterans Affairs officials said.
In addition to mental health issues and addiction, the homelessness stems from several other factors, say federal officials and veterans advocates. Long and repeated deployments strain the bonds of relationships back home, they said.
“Guys, when they get back, their girlfriends put them out,” said Steve Baker, executive director of Grace Resource Center, which serves homeless veterans in Lancaster, Calif. “Some of them, their wives get divorces while they’re overseas. So, they have nothing to come back to.”
Others never had a home to return to, said Peter Dougherty, director of the VA’s Homeless Services Division. Many former foster children join the military once they are too old for foster care so they can have a place to live and an income, he said.
Others are unemployed or underemployed. Some severely disabled veterans unable to work end up homeless because of long delays in receiving disability pay — sometimes up to two years.
But homelessness among today’s returning service members mainly can be traced to the nation’s inability to meet veterans’ mental health needs, federal officials, service providers and veterans advocates said.
Needless wars such as that in Iraq cause many devastations, but some of the worst happen to the troops – the young men and women who give up their freedom to protect the citizens of their country, only to have the pledge misused by corrupt politicians and war profiteers. First these brave troops get killed and injured in these needless wars. Then, out of the ones that get to come home from these wars, they get ignored and neglected.
How come the politicians who claim to “support the troops” the most send them to needless wars to get traumatized, injured, or killed? Why do these some politicians enact policy that leaves veterans hungry, poor, and/or homeless?
Take for example draft-dodger George Bush, the leading warmonger. Bush cut $600 million from the Veterans’ Administration budget, although the VA is already under-funded by around $2 billion a year and now has over 200,000 new veterans to service.
Let’s support the troops by ending these needless wars. Let’s support the troops by bringing them home from Iraq.