The homeless. They are told, “Get a job, you bum!” How exactly does a “bum“ go about getting a job? Just curious. Most college students I know can‘t get a job and they shower every once in a while. “Go to McDonald‘s, they‘re always hiring!” Don‘t you think a person who has resorted to sleeping on the street has ever tried to get a job at a McDonald‘s? Assuming that all homeless people are even mentally competent to do so. One-third of the homeless population is mentally ill. Yeah, I bet that looks great on a resume.
In the spoken song “Underwear Goes Inside the Pants,“ Soren Nystrom makes the point that people won‘t give homeless people money because they‘ll use it on drugs or alcohol. Then he says, “That‘s what I‘m going to use it on. Why am I judging this poor bastard?” Seriously. If I were sleeping on a park bench, I would definitely save up for a cheap flask, steal a bottle of rum and forget too. Hey, don‘t judge me. I‘ve been resilient my whole life. If I still end up on the streets I‘m telling you right now I‘ll give up.
On a more serious note, roughly 33 percent of the homeless population in America today are veterans. Yes, war veterans, not like they‘re experts at being homeless. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans‘ website says that “67 percent [of homeless veterans] served the country for at least three years.“ I don‘t mean to just spit out a bunch of numbers but one-third of these people served in a war zone. Combat. Killed people. My fractions aren‘t so great but if I‘m not mistaken that‘s about one-sixth of the homeless population today who have served in battle in the name of the United States.
There have been intense partisan debates since the birth of America. You know, black rights, women‘s rights, human rights; all tricky subjects. But I think most people (save Bill O‘Reilly) can agree that if someone is willing to kill for you, I guess I‘m talking to Uncle Sam here, the least you can do is return the favor. But if that can‘t work out how about you just ensure a place for them to live and a way to support their families after they‘re done blowing people up for you. I really think you‘re getting the better end of the deal here, man.
How demoralizing. To go from a soldier who is considered having the most respectable job in America to a homeless person on the street being told to get a job at McDonald‘s has to be the most heart breaking thing I‘ve heard of. What is going wrong after people return from war? Why are so many ending up on the street? The Veterans Association helps take care of a great number of these homeless vets; they house about 100,000 veterans in a year. But given that there are about 400,000 homeless veterans a year that leaves the majority of them back on the streets.
I would think it has to do with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In Psych 1 we saw a video about a girl who almost got raped. For a while after every time she saw something that resembled the place or the man she‘d have the same physiological arousal as when it first happened. High blood pressure and increased heart rate. It kept her from doing simple things, it was so severe. What is the physiological arousal for someone who has had to kill someone, see someone else be killed or watch their friends die? People who have been surrounded by bombs and explosions for months at a time?
This all sounds like the World Wars and shell shock. Shell shock yes, but the vast majority, I‘m talking almost 70 percent, of homeless men who served in the military were enlisted in Vietnam. There‘s almost a stereotype of crazy veterans who talk about their feats in ‘Nam. But what‘s interesting is that there are about 2,000 homeless veterans from the just wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the past seven years, while fighting terrorism, promoting patriotism, and wasting billions of dollars every day overseas, 2,000 men and women, who were the ones fighting for this cause, are sleeping on the streets. Considering that Iraq was bull, Afghanistan became a joke, and that we‘ve gained nothing from any of this, I cannot believe the government doesn‘t have more intervention.
SARA KOHGADAI is not feeling witty today. Reach her at email@example.com.