No one who has served this Nation should ever be living on the street.
They are the ones who defended this country in a time of need, many who carried their wounded brothers off the field of battle through a jungle under fire or across a desert because they believed in the ideals that made America the land of the free.
Today, though, it is become more commonplace than ever. How bad? A recent assessment by the Department of Housing and Urban Development showed that nearly 62,000 veterans do not have home. Northeast Ohio and Cleveland is far from being immune, despite the elements here and there are many on the streets or in shelters.
While it is theorized that most of the homeless suffer from some substance abuse problem and that is why they are on the streets, in the case of many of the veterans who have returned it is far from being the truth.
Yes, there are those with those problems but there are many, who returned to the land of opportunity only to find that being all they could be, while learning a skill for a lifetime just couldn't find jobs. They were deemed by employers to have some kind of post traumatic stress disorder, thus making them not economically viable
I was fortunate recently to meet two of these veterans who live on the streets of downtown Cleveland. One whom I gave my winter jacket to back in November because it was snowing and all he had was a hoodie, saw me a month later and despite having very little on him offered to buy me a hamburger.
The other was just happy to have conversation.
His story was one that he feels could happen to many of the younger veterans returning back from tours overseas, although President Obama has along with the Department of Veteran Affairs pledged to eliminate all homeless veterans from the streets by 2015, something that needs to happen sooner than later.
According to this other veteran, lets just call him GI JOE, he proudly fought in the Vietnam war and still has sorrow in his eyes when speaking about it.
But like many today, when he returned he fell on hard times.
Still he had no regrets. He like most, are proud of what the good old USA stands for and never asked for a handout.
Too many like GI JOE though, fell on hard times after returning home with no where to turn but the streets. Some have stories of lost families, lost houses, lost jobs, yet despite these obstacles most remain positive.
So the next time you are downtown and see a veteran playing his saxophone, perhaps the lone possession he has or one with a sign asking for work instead of food, take the time to help instead of turning a cheek and keeping a prejudice that all homeless are bad individuals.
If that isn't enough to persuade one, perhaps the story of what occurred in Cincinnati back in October is. A man was robbed at an ATM machine, and the only individuals to come to his assistance were two homeless vets, who asked for nothing in return.
Said one of them to the media following the incident, "I was compelled to do something, I couldn't just sit back and watch someone get victimized."
Think of those words, " was compelled to do something, I just couldn't sit back and get victimized."
A man, who defended his country yet was a victim himself living on the streets.
Or even better make a difference and give a donation to an organization such a the Wounded Warriors Project or Good Charity Inc. A little can make a difference.