Remembering Homeless Veterans On This Memorial Day

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(The picture here is with Tony Putnam, Tara Samples and Sage Lewis. Tony and Tara grew up together.)
I know that Memorial Day is to remember veterans that lost their lives in active military service.
But it also makes me think of homeless veterans. In many ways, they have lost their lives to a failed system that doesn’t work hard enough on their behalf.
About 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 40,056 veterans are homeless on any given night.
And we, of course, have our fair share of homeless veterans come through our facility.
This interests me because Akron is proud to say that “Veteran homelessness in Akron reaches ‘functional zero’
Basically, they are saying any veteran that wants housing can get it.
That is either a lie or a delusion. I haven’t figured out which, yet.
We repeatedly have older veterans with serious mental health issues come to our facility. They can’t work the system. They don’t have IDs. They don’t have phones. And they certainly don’t have a single dollar to their name.
And service providers sit back and wait for the homeless veterans to come to them.
“Call us between this time and that time.”
“Come to our office for a meeting”
“Just get a job.”
These are massive obstacles for a person who can barely walk, has no money and is extremely depressed.
Homeless service providers have barely scratched the surface on doing the work that needs to be done to help the homeless reintegrate back into society.
So, of course, we have homeless veterans in Akron. And until we all work A LOT harder at meeting their actual needs we will always have a lot of homeless veterans in Akron.
This functional zero designation is gaslighting us into believing a completely false narrative. Just because someone says we don’t have any more homeless veterans doesn’t make it true.
If there is ever a person in America that deserves some care and attention, it’s a veteran. How many of us would be willing to sign up for anything where we agreed to give our lives up for a cause? We accept that as reality in America. But the truth of it is incredibly heavy. Most of us are cowards with flexible ideologies. But not veterans. They are all in.
Today, I want to give thanks to one veteran I get to spend a great deal of time with at The Homeless Charity: Tony Putnam.
He runs our kitchen with Mary. He’s a powerful force of good. He always goes to the Food Bank with me to help load and pack food on our truck. He is an amazing role model to his girlfriend’s son, who loves him dearly.
He works constantly for us. I seriously don’t know what we’d eat if it weren’t for Tony.
And he lives in a tent.
He is one of the 40,056 homeless American veterans with nowhere to go.
Thank you Tony!
My life is so much fuller and richer for knowing you. You are a great guy. I thank you for your service as a veteran. And I thank you for your service at The Homeless Charity.
You are awesome.

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