For the last seven years we have been hearing politicians consistently using phrases like “we are here to serve those you have served” or “We will leave no veteran behind.” Washington, DC, also declared to end veteran homelessness by 2015. These have all been wonderful campaign slogans to get local politicians elected into office because it is a topic that is very near and dear to the hearts of most Americans. There have been great organizations and programs that have been created to make these promises a reality; like veteran year around homeless shelters and the HUD VASH program that subsidizes low income housing for homeless veterans. There is also the Grant Per Diem (GPD) program that allows our homeless veterans to address addiction and mental health issues at local treatment facilities and recovery homes.
The problem is that as the politicians in Washington DC create and promote these programs for our homeless veterans, it is nothing more than a mirage or smoking mirrors. This is because as they developed these programs they also reconstructed the criterion that allows these homeless veterans the ability to qualify for these programs. The most recent reconstruction that mostly affects our veterans from qualifying for these programs is the ruling that was passed by Washington DC stating that any veteran who has received a discharge less than a general under honorable conditions or who has less than two years of service will not qualify for any GPD benefits.
As a combat veteran myself who suffers from PTSD I know personally what that can do to a person who feels like they don’t belong in this world. Many of these men and women have been through traumatic experiences that they were never taught how to either address or deal with so develop coping skills through drugs and alcohol. These decisions ultimately get them in trouble with their command and usually results in an other than honorable discharge (OTH). Some of these soldiers serviced multiple tours of honorable service but according to this new ruling would not be eligible for services because the latest discharge is the one that counts. There is also the soldier that serves less than two years but because of some traumatic experience is discharged, these soldiers also do not qualify for benefits.
The question that this writer has for the readers of this article and for every American is, aren’t these the veterans that we should be helping the most and the reason why these program were created in the first place. By putting these reconstructions in place we are taking away programs and resources that these men and women need the most, thus not decreasing but increasing the amount of homeless veterans that we see today. These new stipulations are going to take away the opportunity for these homeless veterans to get the help that they truly need and deserve. We as a nation that prides ourselves on being thankful to those who served cannot allow this to happen.