Homeless veterans live solitary and nomadic existences. At night, some sleep in cars parked near VA facilities, under freeway overpasses or in public parks.
While no federal program offers completely free housing for the homeless, a little-noticed statute is allowing those who help this population to obtain federal property at no cost, turning abandoned buildings and lots into hubs for social services.
Playwright Rebecca Stahl’s Everything in Between may be a message play, but as such it’s a fundamentally sound one. One of its virtues is the clear picture it furnishes of the kinds of behavior exhibited by sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder when their illness goes untreated,
“Thank you for your service.”
It’s a line we hear and say a lot around Veteran’s Day, especially in California, home to 1.8 million veterans, more than in any other state.
But if we really want to show gratitude for our veterans, then we need to do more than utter a simple “thank you.” We need to help these brave heroes find a middle-class life when they return from serving our country.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs annual survey of veterans, jobs are the biggest concern for our returning veterans and for good reason — the unemployment rate for veterans of recent conflicts is an unacceptable 10 percent and 1.5 million young veterans – many with families to support — currently live under the poverty line.
It hasn’t always been like this. According to Nick Berardino, Vietnam Veteran and General Manager of the Orange County Employees Association:
“When we came back from Vietnam,
Readers of Monday’s New York Times may be forgiven for thinking an article by James Dao was about a new insult to America’s military veterans. After all, Dao reported that soon all vets separated from active duty within the past year, without dishonorable discharges, might be facing an even harsher existence than military life – as Walmart employees. Study after study has shown the retail behemoth to be a cutthroat employer of last resort, most of whose business innovations seem to involve new ways to save the corporation money by slashing employee hours and benefits.
Somehow, though, that didn’t figure much into the Times story. Instead, we read about a patriotic company with plans to hire 100,000 service men and women – essentially any American vet who needs a job. The recruitment begins Memorial Day, no less. According to the Times: