Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Homeless in America: Veterans

I often frequent a local restaurant based upon a theme of honoring those who serve society as members of police and fire and military units. Last night I noticed a sign on the wall with a simple message: All gave some, and some gave all.


Among those living on our streets in America, homeless veterans occupy a special place. No matter how much they gave to us in whatever conflict we dispatched them to, they are still giving. 

Their lives, ripped apart for the short term of months or long years, were never made whole when they were allowed to return. We may have given them a parade and a plaque and a spot on the nightly news. We may have given them a medal or new arm or new leg or a few dollars. But what we took will never be returned. 

The mental and emotional traumas are not patched together with the wonders of modern medicine and modern technology. The bond these guys formed with their brothers in arms, the bond of a dangerous job in a dangerous place, should be offered here at home. My thank you should not be the end. It should be the beginning. The bond of humanity and brotherly love should be offered first and foremost.

It is too easy to think of homelessness as the product of bad life choices and bad decisions, and ultimately the fault of the homeless person. Serving our country in a war zone, losing a buddy in a bloody battle, losing a leg in an IED explosion are not bad choices and bad life decisions. 

What did I give today to those who have given so much to us? Did I pass a few dollars out the window of my car? Did I drop some coins into a hat on the sidewalk? Or did I give of myself, my spirit, my heart?

Sometimes a smile and a handshake can make a difference to another human being in ways we may not be able to fathom. Freedom Isn’t Free is just a slogan we toss around until we remember some of those men and women are still making payments.

Words and Images by Al Griffin