I Met A Homeless US Navy Veteran Today
While downtown this morning watching as the Colorado Springs Veterans Day Parade was forming up I met a homeless Veteran I’ll call him Navy (US Navy, former aircraft maintenance tech on an aircraft carrier).
Navy asked a simple question, “Why is nobody helping Veterans in this town?”
Navy has been in town for a month, has money for rent but no agency has offered help. Even the VA clinic said they didn’t carry blankets, which is probably true as they are not a hospital. He said one homeless shelter has only 12 beds and there’s a waiting list. Other cities have organizations or programs that one can call and when you tell them you’re a veteran, they find you a bed where you can stay up to 6 months. I told him I don’t think we have that here.
I told Navy there are places that help veterans and gave him directions to a place I was sure could get him help or information of where to turn. I then continued walking and crossed to the other side of Tejon St. and it was barely 8:30 am, still an hour and a half before the parade would start.
I was approached by Navy again after he went to the place I sent him but they offered no help.
We parted and Navy faded back into the sea of homeless veterans and others living on the streets of Colorado Springs becoming invisible in plain sight. As I walked I saw many homeless persons on the streets, some with shopping carts full of their entire life possessions, others with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing. I continued walking a block or two down the street, crossed back over and ended up back at my vehicle.
It was cold 38 degrees and breezy and I just couldn’t take the cold and I returned home puzzled and depressed thinking about this homeless guy Navy, a guy whose been sleeping under the bridge, dodging eggs and rocks and ridicule while simply trying to survive. How does our society deal with our homeless? We care more for our illegal aliens and refugees, providing for their needs, but ignore the homelessness of American citizens and Veterans. There has to be an answer. I just don’t have one yet.
I went online and found a couple of possibilities, but most are geared up for counseling or adventures for veterans dealing with issues they had during active duty. I found very few local agencies or organizations in Colorado Springs that dealt with feeding or housing the homeless.
Winter is upon us, snow is in our future and we can bundle up if we must go out. What about the homeless veterans and others who have no shelter?
There is at least one company in town who builds tiny houses for those who can afford them. So why can we not allocate the resources necessary to address the homeless, provide assistance in food, shelter and job training and assistance for our most vulnerable?
In Colorado Springs there are motels (ComCor) that are turned into secure facilities for convicted criminals that are really facilities for rehabilitation and reentry into society.
Why not for our homeless? Not simply to provide housing, but to provide a total “VA Stand down” atmosphere where Veterans show up to have their veteran status verified, provide temporary housing, food, medical and dental checkup (prescriptions filled, eye ware renewed) job training and placement so they can moving into affordable housing, access to transportation and reentry into civilian life as productive citizens once more?
It’s easier said than done, but there has to be a way? It would require staffing services, committed medical and dental facilities, as well as dining facility and staff & food stocks, and oh so much more but it could be done with the right push by citizens, churches, non-profits, civic leaders and state legislators and the Department of Veterans Affairs all coming together to make Colorado Springs a leader overcoming homelessness.
As I said earlier I don’t have all the answers, but lots of questions and “Winter is Coming” and already is upon us. – I am the Real Truckmaster!