Monday, November 8, 2010

The Forgotten Days ...


A young man strolling along a garbage-strewn street one cold and windy day came upon a homeless man sitting in a wheelchair near the entrance to a crowded cafe ... a tattered American flag crudely attached to his chair and a plastic bucket with the words "homeless veteran - help please!" wedged between his crippled knees compelled the passerby to drop a few dollars inside ... "God bless you young man" said the grateful veteran with forced smile, ragged clothes, unkempt beard and hair, and tired, empty eyes ... the curious lad unsure of a proper reply then exclaimed "Sir, I bet you've experienced some horrible things in your day" ... deep furrows tightened on the veteran soldier's leathery brow as he hesitantly replied "Yes, I certainly have ... but nobody wants to hear that stuff ... nobody really cares" ... feeling obligated to listen, the young man urged him go ahead ... so the man cleared his throat and began:

"Well I've seen men, women and children die in the cruelest of ways
... shot, stabbed, butchered, lynched and burned alive ... others blown apart, tortured or raped--innocent babies too ... I've heard screams in the night as they suffered and died ... I've seen scores lank and frail from hunger and thirst, having no shelter or place to hide, naked and shivering from cold and from fright ... I've seen dead bodies discarded beneath bridges and alongside of the road ... helpless children abused by the heartless ... the aged, the sick and the powerless sitting abandoned, hopeless and alone ... and I too have experienced pain, hunger and cold while enduring countless nights outside, lonely, sad and afraid ... I've seen hatred, indifference and wickedness swelling in the hearts of man ... yes, I reckon I've seen many shameful and inhuman things" ... then asked the young man, now speechless and dismayed "that's terrible Sir, on what faraway battlefield did you see all those horrible things?" ... the old warrior slowly shook his head then said, "oh no son ... you don't understand ... most of it happened right here on our own homeland!"

One day a year on Veteran's Day, we honor those distinguished souls who have bravely and selflessly served our country ... let us not forget about them during the other 364 days ... according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, an estimated 130,000 to 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in this great country, with twice that many experiencing homelessness over the course of a year, comprising 25% of all homeless people in America ... many factors affect all homelessness such as shortages of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care ... veterans are impacted to a further degree from lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks ... the Department of Veterans Affairs has made some progress in helping our veterans, but it is far from being enough ... there are steps we can all take to make sure veterans are adequately taken care of -- determine the needs in your community -- involve others -- participate in local homeless coalitions -- send a financial donation -- and contact your elected officials.

By all means, if you encounter a homeless veteran who needs a helping hand, please give it ... do whatever is necessary within your means to assist these precious people ... express your appreciation for their sacrifice and dedicated service, let them know that you are genuinely concerned about their welfare, and that you respect and support them ... if there were but one needy or homeless veteran left on our streets without adequate shelter, food, clothing or medical care... that is one too many ... it's a shame and a disgrace for any loyal veteran to endure such demeaning treatment from the nation they helped to protect and preserve ... we hear this plea nearly every day ... "God bless America" ... well God has blessed America ... I wonder what goes through the mind of God when he sees a homeless veteran, young or old sitting near a busy thoroughfare ... flag proudly waving in the chilly air ... ragged clothes ... unkempt beard and hair ... forced smile and tired, empty stare ... with no place to go ... asking passersby for help ... hungry, tired and confused ... in the midst of a land as blessed as America?

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" --Matthew 5:9



It's genuinely disgraceful that America would handily fork over billions of dollars to greedy, rich sponges on Wall Street while her brave and honorable war veterans line Main Street begging for a piece of bread! ... --sja Share/Bookmark

18 comments:

BOB said...

"It's genuinely disgraceful that America would fork over billions of dollars to greedy, rich sponges on Wall Street while her brave and honorable war veterans line Main Street begging for a piece of bread!" ... indeed!

BOB said...

Worry not, you'll get plenty of comments and positive reaction ...

with your next humorous masterpiece

sja said...

Already thinking about that Bob!

Just this... Alice said...

My heart breaks for our heartbroken veterans. They gave the USA their all and all the USA has given them in return is a whole lot of nothing. All the big officials that are getting such outrageous raises should donate a part of it to the veterans in need of help. I can't say I know what they are going through but I can say I have experienced some of the cast to the wayside, thrown away, treated like I was the scab on the sore of humanity by people who are in positions to help those in need. I don't think a person should make welfare their sole income,rather I feel it is there in time of need only. And because so many have abused it there seems to be nothing for the men and women who have given their time defending a country that throws them away just like a no longer wanted puppy when they are no longer useable. I've had family serve in all the wars there have been since we became a free country. Someone should write a book after interviewing all these men and women that are homeless, jobless,veterans of a United States. United in what? GREED States? STATE of you're a problem we want to go away. Sorry to get up on my soap box. I have a special place in my heart for our veterans.

sja said...

Just this... Alice -- if enough folks would corporately rouse from this insolent and immoral stupor that is so prevalent all across this grand and blessed nation, and efficaciously voice their sentiments as you have with your heartfelt comment -- then America just might begin to get her priorities straight ... such as making certain that those who fought to preserve and prolong our freedoms are a top priority!

mysticdave said...

Such a good, poignant post. Being a veteran who suffers from PTSD, i have seen first hand what can happen to folks who have served our country. I am lucky to have a family who has taken me in, so i am not homeless, but i see and talk to vets every week at the local VA hospital who are homeless and they tell me their horror stories of life on the streets, it surely is a heartbreaking shame for this to happen in the good old USA!...Thank you so much for this heart wrenching post and i am certainly sharing this throughout cyberspace. I have already put this out on reddit, and it is doing quite well already....many folks have a special place in their hearts for vets as well, and i surely hope this reaches out and touches as many hearts as possible, because it is what this country needs, a solidarity of support for our fellow humans who have sacrificed so much :)

sja said...

Mysticdave -- thank you for that sincere comment ... PTSD can be not only devastating to those who suffer from its scourge, it can also adversely effect those who surround them--and if one doesn't suffer from PTSD, they can never understand those who do--I personally know that for a fact! ... I hope my post will encourage folks to offer their respect ... understanding ... tolerance ... recognition ... assistance ... love ... and prayers for all veterans ... not only on Veterans Day ... everyday!

sja said...

... and above all show your gratitude!

Barbara said...

My brother served in Vietnam, not on the fronts but as a jet mechanic in Thailand flying in and out when needed. It affected him just like others being there. I wish there was more we could do, more than a salute.
My prayer is the ones that know they didn't do what they were supposed to do in whatever war, would not ever rest day or night.
I'm always "rattled" when I read these types of stories...I don't know what to say or do or write...

Polly said...

Both my brothers served in Viet Nam, one in Desert Storm. Neither can bring themselves to talk about it to anyone, even now, after all these years. What they endured is unspeakable anyway and I am so, so sorry many of our young men suffered so. My youngest brother was a mere boy, but the man who returned was never the carefree boy we had watched go off to fight a war that no one wanted.

sja said...

You're not alone in your feelings Barbara ... there are no words to describe the suffering caused by war ...

sja said...

Polly, those who suffer from PTSD no longer have illusions, they now view things through the eyes of stark reality ... many left their hopes, dreams, ambitions and passion for life out there on some battlefield ... tolerance, patience, understanding and space are the greatest gifts you could give them!

Gorges Smythe said...

I used to sometimes call for a charity that helped the homeless veterans. The dernedest thing I ever heard was from a man who was jobless himself say, "Well tell the *%$#@+*&% to go get a job like everybody else!"
I felt like telling the guy to follow his own advice, but I'd probably have gotten canned.

sja said...

Gorges Smythe -- I suppose you could have suggested to that fellow that he join the military and go fight for his country ... at least then he wouldn't have been jobless ... and he just might have returned with a bit of humility and compassion! ... thank you for the comment ...

millionaire instantly said...

heartbreaking..let us not forget the veteran. it's time to give back.

sja said...

Absolutely Millionaire instantly ... thank you for the comment!

PJ said...

Hey SJA! I must say my husband is one of the blessed veterans. Although we had some pretty lean years at first, God Always provided. Now he is on full 100% disability so we don't have to scrimp so much. I truly feel that we are blessed. Thank you for speaking out for those who are among the less fortunate. I have not seen any in the area where we live, but if I did, I would definitely treat them to at least a meal and a place to stay for some time. God Bless,
PJ

sja said...

PJ, if everybody was as kind and gracious as you--I wouldn't have to write posts like this ...