01
Dec
07

85.My New Days…City Life

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Dear Friends:

I must admit I am having a hard time adapting to being inside a city. There is so much noise and light pollution in comparison to a mountain side. I could at least lay back on the side of “my mountain” and think clearly and feel safe. I feel my stress levels are increasing everyday here. I came into the city for my medical reasons. I was told by the VA I had to be near this particular hospital or risk having to start my whole treatment and compensation and pension series over again. I feel like a prisoner!

I work with others on a loading dock in the afternoons and evenings. We have nothing in common though I talk to them and make wise cracks with them. I believe those that are my supervisors have already figured out I might be a little ahead of them and they keep their distance from me. They also keep me out of sight of their bosses so as I do not probably end up replacing them on the dock. I just move my crates as I am directed, it is mindless work and gives me a lot of time to think of other things.

I am trying to plan getting ahead in life again. I went to lunch the other day not even thinking. I reverted in time to over a year ago unconsciously to the old me and walked in to a restaurant and sat down and ordered. When the meal was served I was worried if I had enough to pay for it. What I earn an hour now does not cover a normal lunch other than maybe fast food barely.  I have not gone back into a restaurant since then because the thought of it is numbing to me.

I walk to work. I pass so many things that I believe most miss or take for granted. I see so many businesses lined up, restaurants serving every kind of food, gas stations, and retailers of every kind. As I walk I am seeing and thinking of the good spots enroute that are good spots to hide and camp . Where a homeless person could take shelter safely and have some privacy or even where I could!

Living in a rural area like I was, I did not look homeless, or treated like I was homeless. When one gets into the cities like I mentioned when I was in the park in Albuquerque, NM on Veterans Day, people around you really change. Walking along the road to work I have kids yell “get a job” or other obscenity just because I am walking. Well I have one job to eat from, and looking for a second one to live on.

I miss my buddies Mr. Elk and the Blue Jay family from my mountain. They at least did not say much, but were always there to check up on me in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings. I wondered if I was regressing cutting off human contact. But cutting off the contact also reduced the pain of watching a world that I was once a part of make a wide circle around me. I am an outcast that is ostracized by society for something that could happen to them as well.

I live with the climb back up the ladder daily, as people that look at me silently wonder “what happened to him”. Family looks at you and treats you like you are something that is broken and needs repaired. Or if not that, that you need to get some kind of mental help because this type of thing does not happen. You hear all kinds of things. Makes you want to run out screaming and begin copiously self medicating.

All in all I have to deal with the normal people differently now that I am outside the circle of civilization. Everyday I am out here I see how the homeless can slide. It is a mental fight everyday that leaves me exhausted dealing with how people react to me, working harder in life trying to catch up to at least to poverty level, trying to help other homeless veterans (which I have not been able to do of late other than this site), dealing with my own medical issues, and trying to keep from fleeing back into the mountains.

I can see how some of my brother and sister veterans just lose it.  The stresses that society throws directly upon the homeless and indirectly the homeless veteran to include: municipal ordinances, private citizen harassment as in OldTimers Goat Patrol as an example, Violence against homeless, and other acts of unkindness as I have experienced such as with Pilot Travel Corp and Wackenhut Security, as well as from our own law enforcement authorities. I never experienced anything like this when I was considered “normal”, but I have seen a whole different side of America being at the bottom.

I have found I have learned a lot being down at the bottom. I have met some of the best that our country has in heart and soul as well. I have met some of the kindest people that have OOTB (out of the blue) materialized with such a grand an unexpected acts of kindness at times that the thoughts of them still emotionally rock me inside. I have found purpose in what has occurred in my life as well. It is to find a means to get homeless veterans off the streets as soon as possible, before the mental and substance abuse issues claim their lives. Time kills out on the streets.

All I can ask is that you do not flinch around the homeless. Trust me they know they have it bad already. Not flinching, looking away, changing direction or any other furtive action is just painful to us. How about just a nice “Hi or Hello” would be nice and probably unexpected. You can still walk on, we are not asking for a long drawn out family chats and sharing family pictures. But we are people too, and we were once all someones neighbors.

Wanderingvet

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7 Responses to “85.My New Days…City Life”


  1. 1 Jeff
    December 1, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Wanderingvet, the view my friends and I share about the homeless has definitely changed because of your shared experiences. The fact that our mutual friend Joanne directed all of us to your blog has impacted our lives, as your words are our first informative read of each new day. Your point that the homeless know they have it bad already is well-taken, as is the point about how the ignorance of others can mentally impair the homeless population. Keep up the good fight, keep sharing and call on your readers to act. You may have to give us exact direction though because we’re not all that bright! Best, Jeff

  2. 2 AnAmerican
    December 1, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    As you have shared with readers, this journey of homelessness has brought to light some of the best and worse scenarios in human compassion and kindness. It has opened my eyes to the need for our country to take a serious look at how we deal with the needs of a population that requires much more attention than out current government is giving the homeless. It has also enraged me that we don’t hold the VA accountable for the population whose jobs are to serve veterans.
    I can’t be responsible for others actions but I can monitor my own as relates to making a difference…and I continue to help others in my community that aren’t as fortunate as I am. Although your mission is to help the homeless verteran population you have also offered enlightenment to those of us who are not homeless…you have raised awareness.

  3. December 2, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    You’re absolutely right about homelessness being able to happen to anyone. Homelessness is (to re-use a well worn phrase) “no respecter of persons.”

    One of the local homeless in this area used to have a sign that read:

    “Homelessness Can Afflict Anyone”

    The more I learn about homelessness, the more I know that that statement is absolutely true.

    Keep telling everyone what needs to be heard.

  4. December 2, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Your cartoon says a lot. For those that can’t read the words in the small image, someone in the car sporting an American flag and the “Support our Troops” sticker is telling the disabled homeless veteran to “get a job you worthless bum”, while furthering the insult by spashing water on him.

    In general, many, if not most homeless have some sort of job, but not one that pays enough to get off the street for more than a day or so. Even students in many of our colleges are often homeless, living on the streets, studying in libraries and still making class.

    The insults heard on the street too often are overshadowed by violence and harassment. We have a homeless memorial day coming soon, December 21, the longest night of the year.

    We all need to do more to help our homeless as they were once friends, neighbors and warriors in our community. They are still neighbors and needy ones at that. They can be our friends too, as I’ve found out. Our Lord tells us to love them and care for them. We aren’t doing that, at what price to our ticket to heaven?

    Those of us who claim to be Christians seem to think we have a pre-paid ticket but I expect that, although issued, it is not punched and may not be acceptable by the conductor when we try to use it. It may be consumed with us instead.

    Every person, regardless of race, religion or any other distinction you can think of should be willing and careing enough to take a stand for the homeless in their community and do something to help. Like you, not many of the other homeless out there ever expected to be homeless. It can happen to any of your readers. Take Care Wanderingvet. Take Care.

  5. 5 Asha
    December 3, 2007 at 4:43 am

    Wanderingvet, I do understand how the city life can drain you quickly, but I am happy you are there to get your medical needs met. Your mountain will still be there when you are ready for it again. You might not see the same elk or bluejays, but their progeny will be there to greet you.

    You are in a unique position to help others and work on yourself at this time, and the transformation of who you say you were to who you are now is extraordinary. I definitely look at many people in a different light after reading your blog, and I thank you so much for the experience. It has changed my beliefs and actions when coming into contact with people I didn’t try to understand before. Please don’t stop writing!

  6. 6 Joanne
    December 3, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Cheers to Oldtimer for further illustrating the cartoon for those of us who couldn’t read it. I was behind someone today at an interstate exit who had multiple yellow magnetic ribbons and “My Son is in Iraq” signs on his vehicle. I could see him eating and drinking at the red light, right next to the jacketless homeless person on this blustery day. He didn’t even look over, not once. I look, acknowledge and give what I can now, even if its just a look, a hello or a smile, and even if horns are blowing behind me. Thanks to Wanderingvet for opening my eyes to the homelessness issue and for bringing out this goodness in me. Joanne in NC

  7. 7 tbearly
    December 5, 2007 at 1:42 am

    Thanks for your insights with this posting, WanderingVet. I especially noticed this:

    “I am an outcast that is ostracized by society for something that could happen to them as well.”

    Amen to that. It’s something we all need to remember.

    An update to my veteran homelessness term project: The paper, much longer than the requirements for the project (my fault – too much info. that I couldn’t leave out!), was handed in last week. I’m giving my small group presentation tomorrow, and will be highlighting the WA state County Veterans Coalition for its work with homeless veterans. Perhaps I’ll reach just a few more people with regard to this issue(?). I will be searching out what I can do over the holidays, as I intend to become involved with those who are either searching for a solution, or at the very least, offering my help in whatever way is needed.

    Best of luck in the city. Stay safe, and sane. You are doing important work with this site, and your newfound, passionate determination to being an advocate for homeless veterans will help guide you, I’m sure of it. Don’t give up.

    -Tracy
    Shoreline, WA


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