This weekend we recognized Veteran’s Day. Many of us enjoyed a day off in its honor. We’ve seen sales advertised on commercials, American flags (more than usual) and social media posts of people sharing photos with their grandparents, parents, and other family members who have served in our armed forces.
But what about homeless veterans? You’ve seen them; many hold street signs at a crossroads where we have to sit and avoid eye contact or else be forced to consider the benefits and blessings of our own situations while wondering how we can directly help that person. Their signs saying “veteran,” and it can be a gut punch, because in America we’re raised to respect those who served to protect our freedoms. We draw pride in our armed forces and it’s not uncommon to see strangers going up to those in military garb and just telling them, “thank you for your service.”
It’s easy to see that soldier in the airport, heading home to see his family, and imagine the warm welcome he’ll receive. The burst of pride we get at being American citizens is a very visceral thing.
But what about the veteran on the street corner, begging for help? Does that person instill a sense of pride in us, or a sense of pity? And what are we doing to help them? The people who risk their lives and leave everything they know and love behind, come home to a society that doesn’t quite know where to place them.
For the soldier in the airport returning home after service, she or he may experience PTSD. Many of us civilians will never grasp what they had to endure. Most jobs can’t sustain a person with strong PTSD or other mental illnesses, even if they were acquired while serving our country.
For other service members, they may simply not find a viable job upon returning home. Military life can be hard to translate to a 9-5 job that pays a livable wage.
In a Point-in-Time count in 2017, there were 137 homeless veterans in charlotte. 12% of all adults experiencing homeless at that time, were veterans.
To allow those who put their lives on the line to live in poverty and homelessness is a blight on this country. We need to care for them as they sacrificed everything for us.
Click here to find out how you can plug in to the Dream Center. Veterans who don’t have a home base, a community willing to wrap them in a welcoming embrace, need every one of us to care about them. How will you honor them in service this Veteran’s Day?