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Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters

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posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 07:24 PM
Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters

Washington, DC, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.

"When we already have people from Iraq on the streets, my God," said Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "I have talked to enough (shelters) to know we are getting them. It is happening and this nation is not prepared for that."

"I drove off in my truck. I packed my stuff. I lived out of my truck for a while," Seabees Petty Officer Luis Arellano, 34, said in a telephone interview from a homeless shelter near March Air Force Base in California run by U.S.VETS, the largest organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless veterans.

Arellano said he lived out of his truck on and off for three months after returning from Iraq in September 2003. "One day you have a home and the next day you are on the streets," he said.

In Iraq, shrapnel nearly severed his left thumb. He still has trouble moving it and shrapnel "still comes out once in a while," Arellano said. He is left handed.

Arellano said he felt pushed out of the military too quickly after getting back from Iraq without medical attention he needed for his hand -- and as he would later learn, his mind.

"It was more of a rush. They put us in a warehouse for a while. They treated us like cattle," Arellano said about how the military treated him on his return to the United States.

"It is all about numbers. Instead of getting quality care, they were trying to get everybody demobilized during a certain time frame. If you had a problem, they said, 'Let the (Department of Veterans Affairs) take care of it.'"

I find this really bizarre. When you hear the term "homeless veterans" it conjures up images of aging men wearing a few pieces of their Vietnam era uniforms while hanging out in the streets asking for change. Back in the 80's at least. In 2004 there are younger homeless veterans from a war in Iraq that is still being waged? How can this be allowed to happen?

Asked whether he might have PTSD, Arrellano, the Seabees petty officer who lived out of his truck, said: "I think I do, because I get nightmares. I still remember one of the guys who was killed." He said he gets $100 a month from the government for the wound to his hand.

[edit on 9-12-2004 by cargo]

posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 07:35 PM
It happens because we allow it to happen, plain and simple. It's sad though to think that there are alot of people who actually joined the military to get money for college, and this is what some of them have to look forward to? Our country seems to have a bad habit of just trying to forget those who are "no longer of any use". One of my uncles works at the VA hospital here in Cincinnati(Ohio), I've met him for lunch a few times and let me tell you, it is truly sad to walk past these people who have fought for a country they loved, only to have that same country just thow them away when their time in the military is over. We can't even take care of our own people, how are we going to fix another countries problems? Someone needs to tattoo "think globally, act locally" to dubya's forhead.


posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 07:54 PM

Originally posted by cargo
I find this really bizarre. When you hear the term "homeless veterans" it conjures up images of aging men wearing a few pieces of their Vietnam era uniforms while hanging out in the streets asking for change.

Yeah, only now, the familiar OD green or tiger stripe camoflage pattern and jungle boots will be replaced by the desert camo and suede desert boots.

The transition from military to civilian life is a difficult one. I ended up homeless for some time, having a hard time coping with the unfamiliar terms and conditions of the civilian world. You feel like you're leaving something that works well, and with purpose and reason, for something that you can't figure out how or why it holds itself together. The bottom line is, the security that the military can provide, when all of a sudden removed, can be a frightening thing, whether you've seen combat or not.

I feel really sorry for these guys who have been subjected to two and three times the violence and bloodshed through extended tours of duty than most Vietnam era soldiers were expected to endure. This is going to make for an extremely difficult mission for the VA, as well as local social programs, to be sure.

I really believe that after this war, we will have a solid and sound basis for the study of PTSD leading to more efficient treatment. Already I've heard many stories of young Marines who have returned from a year in Iraq who just can't cope with this world and the horrific memories their heads contain.

This situation feels like just the perfect vent for this uncomfortable 'Christmas Spirit' I'm currently experiencing. Good then.

If anyone out there can spare some time and effort, please use a little of it to do something for a soldier this holiday season. It can be a very lonely time for some.

posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 10:38 PM
It sickens me to see these brave men and women fight for their o#ry in an unjust war, then get forgotten about when their use is over...

Shame on your country and the systems it runs by!

posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 10:48 PM
This is true. They are out there. Vietnam showed us that there is nothing that can be done for the trauma that resides in the minds of experienced vets. So we let them loose on the streets.

A few month's ago I had been driving on a lengthy road trip. I stopped off at a rest area,... and walked around a bit,.. and ended up talking with a vet at the rest stop.

Yes, he was definetly a vet,... and he told me a little about his experiences, there were no holes in his stories, so I considered him legit.

Thing was, he was there,.. asking for gas money from vistors, so he can make it home to Atlanta.

He had just returned from Iraq. And was trying to get home.

I considered that he was just another rest stop bum,... but his vehicle, his dress and demeanor, didnt lend me to believe that.

Instead as I drove away, it did seem very strange that a war veteran of the most recent war, had so few resources to rely upon when back in the states.

posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 11:53 PM
I was under the impression that the military was like a family. I hear so much about the bonds between people who fight together and was perplexed to read that this man should have no support base, at least from his unit etc, to help him.

Also, isn't it in the government's best interest to "debrief" returned veterans and tackle their PTSD rather than dumping fragile minds into society? Is it plausible that we may see an increase in veteran related violence as a result of this inaction?

There is another thread on this forum posted by "rifleman" that I replied to. He was asking whether other veterans here were still having problems with their return from Iraq. I pointed out that it is strange that he posted here rather than at a military forum. But now I can see that maybe there arn't many options available to these people. This really irritates me.

posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 02:02 AM
We can probably look at recent history for an idea of what may be before us.

Return from war (Vietnam in my example)
Not necessarily welcomed back as hero's on a great mission,
Tormented by memories of experiences,
Failing marriage's and partnership's,
Drug/alcohol use and abuse,
VA for psychological assistance,
On the streets with nothing,
...except a screwed up head-full.

Are there any correlations to today?

Can it be prevented by welcoming ALL soldiers back as a hero, (that they should be recognized as)
by providing many years of mental assistance upon return?
by providing housing, food, medicine's?
or maybe a early retirement with substance in the plan?

I dunno,... but they didnt ask to go, OUR government who attempts to represent us told them to.

And 'we the people' should be doing more, for those that go when told to, and fight when fought upon.


[edit on 10-12-2004 by smirkley]

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