Archive for November, 2009

The Homeless Veteran

Yesterday was Veterans Day. Traditionally it is a day when people are encouraged to think about the sacrifices veterans have made in their service to their country and about the outstanding courage and moral character the men and women in the military demonstrate.

Unfortunately for the past several decades, Veterans Day has also been a day filled with stories about the issue of the very high numbers of low-income and homeless veterans.

Several local media outlets covered these types of stories:




The national media outlets did too:




This issue, low-income and homeless veterans, should challenge the way we think about poverty. On a day like Veterans Day we celebrate and honor our veterans; praise them for their values and hard work. How do we make sense of the fact that so many veterans are homeless?

Usually when people discuss those living below the poverty threshold, it is a discussion focusing on how lazy and irresponsible those people are. How their poor judgment and poor moral character are the reason they are poor. How it is prudent and just for our society to stop trying to assist them. How they’re a burden on the respectable taxpayers. How it would be appropriate to sterilize, imprison, or otherwise remove those people who are incapable and non-productive elements of society.

Is this how we talk about our veterans who are living in poverty? Would we dare say these kinds of things about homeless veterans on Veterans Day?

There seems to be some disconnect. What makes the homeless veteran different from the person struggling to get by? Are there some veterans who deserve our praise and others who don’t? Certainly there are few people who would be willing to make those kinds of distinctions, especially just a couple days away from Veterans Day.

Veterans, individuals that we generally agree have solid moral character, can be impoverished and become homeless just as easily as any other person. The market economy does not care how “good” or “bad” a person you may be.

The homeless veteran should remind us that income in no way dictates moral character. To believe that it does would mean having a confusing and bitter view of the world.



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A number of local organizations are hosting free Thanksgiving dinners this year.  Below is a link to a full listing of dinners in Erie County.  Please spread the word!

2009 Thanksgiving Dining Room Schedule


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