Wednesday, August 13, 2014
The struggle is real
There is a huge problem in this country. It goes unnoticed most of the time. We pass these guys on the street every day and see them as vagrants, bums, and beggars. I understand that being able to identify them as Veterans is often difficult because most of them just want a hand out or something to eat and will use that as a key to your heart strings. Several years ago I made it a mission to try and help out when I could honestly ID some of them, and I have. Sometimes, they just ask for rides to a shelter. Other times they'll ask for a few bucks or ask if I have some old used shoes I don't wear anymore. They walk around quite a bit. The ones I have been able to verify in person have usually whipped out a VA card that says "Service Connected", and that's good enough for me. Others have shown me an ID that matched the one and only sacred thing they have left; which are their dog tags. I know it's hard to stop what you are doing to help strangers sometimes as we lead such busy lives. These guys are worth it.
It boils me over to no end to know that we have so many homeless veterans in this country. It also boils me over to know that many of them were once squared away Warriors who shouldered the responsibility of serving so others did not have to and they just can't catch a fucking break. The PTSD factor is very real and can be very damaging. Again, some people will use that aspect to get to your heart strings. I know guys that can't even get out in public without being under some type of sedative because of the pace and factors of things that they cannot control. Sometimes there's just too much going on around them that is not under their control, and it makes them withdraw. I see those guys and gals who hang around crowds with their backs against a wall or in a corner. I see those folks who carry themselves in such a way as to keep their contact with people to a minimum. Believe it or not, they are approachable. Don't let them shut you out when you try and help because some of them truly need it and their sense of pride keeps them from accepting it. That defense mechanism is a natural and also a training reinforced response. You may just make a new friend out of it.