Homeless Vets…

Posted: 11/06/2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

You’ve probably noticed, but I tend to get ticked off pretty badly about some things. Take Barak Obama’s birth certificate issue, for instance. Now, I don’t know for a fact that the Great B.O. was not born in the United States, and if he wasn’t, that would make him ineligible to hold the office of the President of the USA. There are a lot of people that are hanging on to this argument like a dog with a steak, and frankly, I don’t blame them.

If Obama was indeed a legal candidate, what’s the big deal about hiding his birth certificate? I received a bulk email today that says “But Mr. Obama has been ducking and dodging every request to prove that he was actually born here in the United States, as he claims, and not in Africa, as the evidence indicates. In fact, he’s spent nearly $900,000.00 in legal fees for, among other things, fighting our efforts, trying to bankrupt USJF into giving up!” Obama spends nearly one million dollars in legal fees to block the quest for the holy grail of today’s politics, and no one seems to think he has anything to hide. Why doesn’t he just show these people the birth certificate and be done with it? Maybe he doesn’t because he has something to hide.

There are lots of things to hide in today’s world, and the DC crowd isn’t the only crowd doing the hiding. Let’s take the issue of homeless veterans in this country. It’s sad to say that yes indeed, men and women who have laid down their lives for this country can, and do, end up without a place to live. Even here in Maine. I think this is an issue we all should work at in a positive light. But it doesn’t always work that way.

There has been some news, sporadic as it has been, surrounding a proposal for a new vets homeless shelter in Saco. I was directed some time ago to a press release concerning the shelter, which was titled “Homeless Veterans Closer To Finding Shelter In Saco.” It was an interesting article, and they claim that “”In Maine they’re almost all men,” said Ryan. “Four hundred and seventy-eight were documented in homeless shelters across the state of Maine.”” The shelter in Saco was going to be made to house just ten men. I found that interesting, especially since the VA, in announcing the awarding of 36 million in grant dollars in September of last year(08) led to Saco with the Volunteers of America Northern New England receiving $17,875 towards the purchase of one van.

They don’t really say why the van was needed at that point. If the housing was already available, then I could see the need for a van. As it is, I believe the Amvet’s already provide van and ride services to veterans. But at that time there was no official housing. Just controversy over whether housing could be provided in a neighborhood where the residents didn’t seem to want to allow the vets into the community. The stay would be limited to 24 months, as I understand it, and would be a supportive/rehabilitation environment where the vets would be assisted in finding a permanent housing opportunity and employment. Nothing wrong with that, as I see it.

The Volunteers of America, Northern New England says in their website that “We’re building Maine’s first housing dedicated to and designed for our veterans.

Volunteers of America Northern New England has received funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the new construction of a building in Southern Maine to create transitional housing that will provide 10 apartments for homeless veterans…

….The innovative model we have chosen has proven successful in working with the diverse and severe problems faced by many homeless veterans.

After each participant’s strengths and needs are assessed, an individualized service and housing plan will be developed. This plan outlines goals in major life areas, including housing, employment, substance abuse, mental health, family relations, social supports, literacy, life skills training and group cognitive-behavioral therapy.” An interesting story, but I wonder sometimes about the behind the scenes angle within these volunteer agencies. We know what the advertisement is, but what do the recipients of their largesse get out of it?

Apartments are sometimes hard to come by, and there are usually a stack of rules, regulations, and fees attached to the agreements that people moving into these places have to agree to. What’s up with this new set of digs for the homeless? Intrigued by the possibilities, I dug up the VA’s PP presentation of grant applications process and requirements. Did you know that vets can be charged up to 30% of their net income for rent?

According to page 52 of the presentation;

Yes, they can contribute up to 30% of their income (including disability income, SSI) to their rent payment after deducting medical expenses, child care expenses, court ordered child support payments, or other court ordered payments…Consider developing rental agreements, with a security deposit for maintenance (e.g. cleaning, painting) and damage…

Imagine that. These people who put themselves in the line of fire to keep our fat butts warm and cozy can be charged security deposits and maintenance fees, on top of 30% of their net income. Maybe it’s just me, but I see nothing fair in that arrangement. That’s what these grant applicants are told in the workshops.

There seems to be a lot of renewed interest in these programs here in Maine, and as we have decided to become a service industry state, I’m not surprised. But there are some moral issues that render the homeless population in this state into a maligned population, and they have become a population easy to take advantage of. Gone are the days when we took care of the needy because it was the right thing to do. Today, taking care of the needy has become a profitable business. And the homeless population, whether they be vets or not, has become an industry unto itself.

I would hope that these people that provide assistance to the homeless veterans of this country, VOANNE included, remember that the reason they are free to conduct their business, is because of the sacrifice these homeless veterans have made. Perhaps someone in the upper echelons of the VA could attempt to have laws passed prohibiting some of these seeming abuses by way of charging the homeless for security deposits and fees, but for now, let’s just pray that the vets are not too badly taken advantage of.

In researching the issue of homeless vets I found much to shed tears over. Especially the story of the vet who froze to death this past January in Eugene, Oregon. It is unconscionable that even one of our boys should be taken advantage of, much less left in the cold.


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