posted on Jun, 24 2007 @ 11:43 PM
OK, so been a while since I started this thread.
Just an update on what I am doing.
I took the advice given on this thread and have volunteered at several shelters and kitchens. What I noticed is that a very large percentage of the
homeless seem to be military vets, many of them actually combat vets. This of course was very disturbing to me, a combat vet who has been homeless and
was near to giving up after returning from the war.
What I have embarked upon is a mission to major dent in this area of homelessness. After sitting down with many homeless vets what I have realized is
that the loss of comraderie after separation from the service seems to be a major factor in the deteriorating condition of these individuals. I know
the feeling well; when I returned from Iraq in April of 2004 I did have a very hard time adjusting to being back. After my separation from the Army in
December of the same year, my life began to fall apart. Gone were the morning formations, the inspections, the marching around, all the things I hated
while in the service but were defining features of my life. We all change in basic, and we change even more in combat, and that change is with us
always. Adaptation is hard after you have been broken down in basic and turned into something the rest of society is not.
The worst part of separation from the service after combat is the lack of companions that have "been there done that." Even if you hate the people
you serve with, you have an unspoken bond with them and are generally comfortable around each other. Then you are ripped from that and thrown into a
world you were once forced to separate yourself from. It can be lonely, scary, and confusing.
They send us off to kill for them, to do the dirty sins they will not, and then theydiscard us to the curb with nothing left to us but bad memories,
haunted day and night by the specters of horrors we have been involved in.
I fully believe that without a family to return to I would be one of those homeless vets myself. Without responsibility to my wife and children, I
would have had no desire to rejoin society.
I was dead inside, and I almost didnt make it.
So, this is where my experience combined with a desire to help the homeless has led me:
I will start a non-profit to house and employ only homeless veterans.
We will have structure, like the military. This means uniforms, "barracks inspections," a chow hall we all eat at together, morning formations,
All will be paid a fair salary and be provided with shelter, food, and uniforms.
All will work.
School, if that is what an individual prefers, will be considered work and will be paid for. Vets will also be paid a salary while in rehab if they
come to me with substance abuse problems they want to kick.
The non-profit will receive at least 50% of its funding from "capitalist" ventures. We will perform general labor, construction cleanup,
landscaping, security, janitorial services, even pooper-scooper services.
If we run out of paying clients, we will perform community service activities. We will mow the lawns of deployed soldiers, pick up liter in parks. I
will find some way for each person I help to help someone else. Even a vet with no legs can answer phones at the animal shelter.
I will admit that I am scared. Fear is the greatest obstacle to most of us achieving our goals. What if I cant do it? What if I cant feed my own
family because I am trying to help strangers? What if, what if, what if!
I am gonna find out "what if."
I am going to do this, and it will work.
The way to do it is to "just do it" (thanks Nike for that gem.)
So I am going to just do it. I have a meeting with a business consultant I know who is going to help me set up a non-profit.
Wish me luck!
[edit on 24-6-2007 by cavscout]