Posts Tagged ‘homelessness

15
Oct
09

208. New Era of Responsibility?

A transformed VA will be a high-performing 21st century department, a different organization from the one that exists today. Beyond the next five years, we’re looking for new ways of thinking and acting. We are asking why, 40 years after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, this Secretary had to adjudicate claims for service-connected disabilities that have now been determined presumptive. And why, 20 years after Desert Storm, we are still debating the debilitating effects of whatever causes Gulf War Illness. If we do not stay attuned to the health needs of our returning veterans, 20 or 40 years from now, some future Secretary could be adjudicating presumptive disabilities from our ongoing conflicts. We must do better, and we will.

General Eric Shimseki,

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Back in January Wanderingvets posted news of retired General Eric Shinseki taking the office as Secretary of Veterans Affairs .(Real Changes Ahead for Veterans Affairs?) With the confirmation of General Shinseki there was great hope that the VA would be revamped to better serve the needs of our growing veteran population. This week General Shinseki addressed Congress with a “State of the VA Message” that is the result of 9 months of assessments within the VA.

Out of my discussions with Veterans, three concerns keep coming through — access, the backlog, and homeless Veterans.

It would seem that General Shimseki has a very accurate pulse on the shortcomings that have been demonstrated with the current VA system.
From medical negligence to a long backlog of disability claims for veterans,the layers of improvements needed for treating our veterans with the services they deserve seems to have been identified.

It’s very encouraging to see the needs of our homeless veterans being acknowledged and addressed by the VA. With 25% of all homeless Americans being veterans this is an area that has been put on the back burner for too long. The current VA system does little to reduce the burden of homelessness for veterans and historically has let community organization bear the burden of providing for homeless veterans. Sadly, in this current economic climate community resources aren’t able to meet the growing needs of all homeless citizens and many of our veterans remain on the streets without shelter.A survey by the National Coalition for The Homeless shows that shelters for the homeless only provide shelter for less than 40% of people in need of basic services.  A previous statistic by the VA estimated 154,000 veterans (male and female) are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experince homelessness at some point during the course of a year. The VA claims this number is being reduced despite the overall rise in the homeless population in the US and the need for expanded VA services due to returning military from Iraq.

Veterans lead the Nation in homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicides. We now estimate that 131,000 Veterans live on the streets of this wealthiest and most powerful Nation in the world, down from 195,000 six years ago. Some of those homeless are here in Washington, D.C. — men and women, young and old, fully functioning and disabled, from every war generation, even the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will invest $3.2 billion next year to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans — $2.7 billion on medical services and $500 million on specific homeless housing programs. With 85 percent of homelessness funding going to health care, it means that homelessness is a significant health care issue, heavily burdened with depression and substance abuse. We think we have the right partners, the right plans, and the right programs in place on safe housing. We’ll monitor and adjust the balance as required to continue increasing our gains in eliminating Veteran homelessness. We are moving in the right direction to remove this blot on our consciences, but we have more work to do.

The men and women of the armed forces have been made a promise that if they defend our country in military service, we will provide them with the benefits they have earned. Sadly, the VA has fallen short on this promise to our Veterans on many accounts. Does this recent report to Congress mark a new era of responsibility  to our Veterans or will we continue to have the “blot” of  unkept promises on our consciences? Only time will tell.

08
Jun
09

204. The Ghost of The Mind

thinking

 

When one finds themselves with too much time on their hands, old memories seep into ones consiciousness more and more. I understand these things first hand and I fear others will soon experience these same memories of better times with the  increase in unemployment and the number of foreclosed homes and displaced families.

 

It is not uncommon for me to reflect back upon my life, the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s of life in the past. Continue reading ‘204. The Ghost of The Mind’

29
Apr
09

196. State of Affairs

recession

A few readers have mentioned that I have not written for a while. I have been trying to rebuild my own survival plan or bailout plan.

I admit the last six months ,including the holidays, have been very trying times. With the addition of all the new unemployed, there is a severe impact on the availability of jobs with the newly downsized now competing for a dwindling amount of positions in the retail and restaurant sectors. With the tremendous amount of newly unemployed, more than a few things happened making life more difficult.

First, with the number of people and families now having less income, many employers in the retail and restaurant industries reduced their work forces or the hours for their employees. This led to fewer job openings as well as the increased competition for positions, an overall lowering of wages since there was more competition for positions / jobs available. With the reduction of income many retailers and restaurant chains filed for bankruptcy protection since they survive on the extra income that families and others spend. Continue reading ‘196. State of Affairs’

19
Feb
09

192. Invisible Faces

images

Homelessness is a problem that people don’t come in contact with on a daily basis. It tends to not get the publicity that a major disaster would get.

Phil Frame

Homelessness in America isn’t a topic that is widely publicized.  When you look at the mainstream media, homelessness certainly doesn’t get top billing like the news of our political foibles or the latest tabloid tales of celebrities. I’ve often thought  that homelessness is treated as a dirty little secret that  is hidden from most Americans. I think we hide homelessness  due to the fact that there is too little  being done to solve this problem.. The issue of homelessness just isn’t a “feel good” topic. Admittedly, there are many thousands of homeless citizens who will tell you that there isn’t much to feel good about when you face life without a home . Despite our best efforts to make our homeless citizens invisible to the public at large, they are out there in each and every community in our country.

Just last week a colleague of mine was sharing that her church had taken it upon themselves to provide one meal a week to the rising homeless population within their small ,rural county. Continue reading ‘192. Invisible Faces’

10
Jan
09

190. Thoughts on Hunger & The Homeless

hungerpreview1

2009 brings with it many of the same unresolved issues for our country as were present in 2008. Our economy is in a recession, the unemployment rate is rising, and we have been promised that President Elect Obama has changes ahead to lead this nation to better days. Change can be a good thing. We certainly could benefit from closer attention and accountability on many of our economic issues that have recently gained so much attention. We also need change on how we handle so many of our social programs in this country. Homelessness in the US is one area that is in dire needs of change in 2009.

Over the past year we have had unprecedented numbers of Americans who find themselves homeless. The stereotypes of homeless citizens no longer ring true as there are no “typical” homeless people in this country. The diversity of our homeless citizens includes so many subgroups who just haven’t been able to weather the storm of our current economic challenges. ALL communities throughout the country report a sharp rise in local homeless populations. The demographics of our nations’ homeless includes Veterans, families, children, single mothers, middle class families, the elderly, those with both mental and physical illnesses, students and those who never, ever thought that they would find themselves without a home. My point here is the faces of our homeless spans across all demographics and continues to expand….and it isn’t going away without some serious changes.
Continue reading ‘190. Thoughts on Hunger & The Homeless’

19
Dec
08

187. What Next?

 

96991072adb1afd2

 

 

 

      What do you do in life?

If one loses everything, including loved ones, achievements, status, place in the world to include ones employment, home and self identity what does one do?

I have often pondered this question in my travels and travails. Does one look for the perfect spot to start over? Does one stay in one spot, possibly melt down or rebuild, or does one just accept that it could have been fate that decreed the collapse and decide to rebuild their lives elsewhere. Continue reading ‘187. What Next?’

21
Sep
08

177. Tent Cities Rise in US:Our Dirty Little Secret

Photo AP

The picture above isn’t one from a third world country. The above picture is a tent city in Reno Nevada and it is just one of the many tent cities that are springing up around the US. The result of the current economy in the US has resulted in an increase of Americans who find themselves homeless. This particular one in Reno is home for 150 homeless citizens who have become the latest statistic in the rise of homelessness in the US.  While we read about the current state of ecomonic tumoil in the US, it is a rarity to actually see the results of these hard times that all Americans are facing. Well, guess what folks? Tent cities are on the rise throughout the US and will probably continue to increase as the economy worsens. Tent cities are becoming a landscape of the America of 2008.

From Seattle to Athens, Ga., homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation.

Continue reading ‘177. Tent Cities Rise in US:Our Dirty Little Secret’




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