Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Memorials You Don't See

'Renarf' interrupts the debate over Google's logo design with a few more relevant observations:

More than 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States are military veterans, although they represent 11 percent of the civilian adult population, according to a new report.

CNN has more about that study here. And you can hear more about how well we're 'supporting the troops' here, here, here, and on the streetcorners and sidewalks of any medium to large sized American city.

Veterans ... find themselves in a Catch-22, not able to find a job because of the lack of an apartment, and not being able to get an apartment because of not having a job...

When it was time to lay the wreath today on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the President found he had better things to do. Just as when it was time to fund veteran's and soldier's healthcare, provide them with equipment and body armor, and come up with a viable strategy and an exit plan for them in Iraq. And just as when it was time for the President to serve, himself.

Jesus wept.

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans accepts donations every day of the year. No yellow ribbons required.


Blogger Management said...

Tweaks send Google critics into orbit
By Jim Puzzanghera
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 9, 2007

WASHINGTON — Should the world's most-used search engine be more of a Yankee Google Dandy?

Google Inc. occasionally features light-hearted doodles on its colorful home-page logo to commemorate special occasions. But now they are drawing criticism from conservatives for not being more patriotic.

The Mountain View, Calif., company bathes its logo in stars and stripes every Independence Day, but last week's decision to honor the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik launch -- the second "g" in Google was replaced with a drawing of the Soviet satellite -- is being blasted by some conservatives.

Not only did Google honor an achievement by a totalitarian regime that was our Cold War enemy, they griped, but it did so without having ever altered its logo to commemorate U.S. military personnel on Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

"It's a kick to your belly," said conservative blogger Giovanni Gallucci, 39, a social media consultant from Dallas. "I understand these guys are scientists and engineers and they have their quirks and want to make sure people are recognized who might not normally be recognized . . . but why not celebrate the struggles that we've come through as a people?"

Conservatives see the Sputnik logo as particularly galling because the search giant's in-house artist has tweaked the Google logo for a variety of obscure events, including World Water Day, Persian New Year, painter Edvard Munch's birthday and China's Dragon Boat Festival.

Google regularly gives other U.S. holidays the logo treatment, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and St. Patrick's Day (but not for Columbus Day, which was Monday).

"When they ignore Veterans Day and Memorial Day, I think they're telling us something about the way they view America," said Joseph Farah, editor of, a conservative website that has criticized Google's logo decisions.

Conservatives have found plenty of reasons to complain about Google, which they see as a liberal enclave because of the corporate causes it champions and the political candidates its employees support.

The company, started in 1998 by two Stanford University graduate students, prides itself on progressive thinking. Google set up a $90-million foundation in 2005 to fund causes widely seen as liberal, including climate change and global public health.

What's more, the company's employees contribute overwhelmingly to Democratic candidates. While the company's new political action committee has given nearly half of its $22,100 in contributions this year to Republicans, 93% of the $141,000 donated by individual employees went to Democrats, according to Federal Election Commission data provided by CQ Moneyline.

Google's decision to self-censor its search engine in China to comply with the Communist government's online rules also has drawn condemnation from Republicans.

The company defended its decision to let Veterans Day and Memorial Day pass without a special logo, saying it was trying to be respectful.

"Google's special logos tend to be lighthearted and often scientific in nature," spokeswoman Sunny Gettinger said in an e-mailed statement. "We do not believe we can convey the appropriate somber tone through this medium to mark holidays like Memorial Day."

Google has altered its logo more than 140 times since 1999, according to a gallery on the company's website.

The choices sometimes reflect Google's corporate fascinations. For example, the company is so enthralled with space exploration that it recently agreed to sponsor a $30-million contest to land unmanned rovers on the moon.

That passion has been reflected in logos that commemorate some of America's crowning achievements in space exploration, including lunar landings and Mars missions, and the birthday of noted American astronomer Percival Lowell.

Still, outrage increases in some corners of the Web for each year Google fails to honor Memorial Day.

In May, the website started a Memorial Day logo contest to "show Google that it's not so hard" to make respectful ones. It has received about 250 entries, including ones that replace the second "o" with a Purple Heart medal and the "l" with the flagpole in the Iwo Jima flag-raising.

"I have no problem with Google commemorating obscure holidays or some of the trivial anniversaries that they note," the site's owner, who declined to give his name, said via e-mail, "just so long as they also make special logos for the more significant holidays."

7:03 PM  
Blogger Management said...

I forget sometimes how fortunate I am to live in close proximity to a city rich with history, memorials, museums and beauty. One thing that we aren't lacking for are memorials dedicated to particular wars, battles, and the military.

While I appreciate these monuments and honor the sacrifice which spelled their necessity, I'm not certain that we are memorializing the right things.

I remember visiting the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial shortly after its dedication on Veteran's Day 25 years ago. My family waited until the following spring to visit, combining a trip to The Wall with a visit to the Tidal Basin to see the Cherry Blossoms. I was 15 at the time, and I was undoubtedly focused on things that didn't much consider history. In fact, if I recall correctly, I was quite the pill when informed that I would NOT be staying home to watch MTV (which was new at the time - man I'm old!), I would be making the annual family trek with the family.

I still remember when we first walked near The Wall, near enough for it to truly come into view. Flowers were everywhere. Dog tags lay on the ground. Photos lay with dog tags and flowers. Remembrances competed with each other in an unbroken line at the base of the wall. People stood by, close, looking - reading - searching for a name. Some had found them and stood touching a name on the wall. Still others touched and wept. I must have been rooted to the spot, gaping, because my mother told me not to stare.

That was probably the first time I remembered really connecting to wars and consequences and devastation. I was profoundly moved by that trip and, as my parents can attest, picked their brains forever after about what it was like to be alive in the 60s and how they felt about Vietnam past and present. It was one of those moments in life when you can feel your outlook fundamentally altered and, in some ways, your innocence irretrievably lost.

These memorials exist for us to see and reflect, to draw our own conclusions about how we feel or felt about a particular war and make judgments as to the war's relative "rightness" or "wrongness". I deeply appreciate these memorials despite the fact that in some ways they glorify battle, something which should be avoided at all costs. What I mean is, if you were an alien who was dropped in the middle of Arlington at the Iwo Jima Memorial or you were dropped into the center of the World War II Memorial you'd see odes and testaments to bravery and patriotism that wouldn't necessarily tell the real story of the war itself. It would utterly lack context. Yet living in this country and being reasonably well-educated allows me to appreciate the memorials within their respective proper contexts.

The Memorials You Don't See

I didn't write this diary, however, to talk about the beauty of our national war memorials or to specifically discuss the bravery of the individuals honored or the folly or wisdom of the particular war itself. Rather, this diary operates in reverse order of my thought process as I rose this morning and reflected on Veteran's Day. It made me think of a report I saw on CNN last Thursday, one which featured this staggering opening:

More than 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States are military veterans, although they represent 11 percent of the civilian adult population, according to a new report.

I personally see them every single time I go downtown, which is several times a week. They stand at the light where Roosavelt Bridge ends and becomes Constitution Avenue at the entrance to DC. They walk up and down between the cars, carrying signs. Most people ignore them - but I always roll my window down and give them some money (and yes - I realize it could be a scam but my conscience won't allow me to ignore them on the chance that it's not), usually moved by the signs they carry. Recently, I've seen these vets moving farther out of the city. They appear at busy intersections along the DC Metro lines having traveled, presumably, to greener pastures.

One thing that I'm also noticing is the change in the appearance of these vets. They have, sadly, been a mainstay in DC and the always seemed roughly the age of a Vietnam vet. Yet lately, younger faces have been appearing on the streets of DC and holding signs. I suspect this is something that is going to continue to increase, given the dire state of funding for Veteran's care coupled with the appalling lack of wellness care afforded the current Iraq War veterans. The CNN article touched on this as well:

Veterans such as Jason Kelley find themselves in a Catch-22, not able to find a job because of the lack of an apartment, and not being able to get an apartment because of not having a job, The Associated Press reported.

"The only training I have is infantry training, and there's not really a need for that in the civilian world," the AP quoted Kelley as saying in a phone interview. In addition, he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he told the AP. Kelley served in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard, the news agency said.

There have been some great diaries on PTSD here at Daily Kos (follow the link to all 502 of them), and I believe that the readership here understands what a huge problem it already is and its potential for growth. In a system that already clearly can't accommodate the unique needs of veterans, I'm sick to think about how many Iraq War vets will degenerate from lack of proper mental and physical care and join the ranks of the veteran homeless in the coming years. I sadly expect that the faces will continue to get younger, blending in with the older, telling a story of literally generations of veterans tossed aside by a system that doesn't serve their needs or interests.

So coming full-circle - I appreciate the memorials. I do. But most of these memorials honor the dead. Yes, the living may be represented, but The Wall, for example, is all about the dead. It's about those who died in service to our country, right or wrong. The irony is that YARDS AWAY from The Vietnam Memorial you see homeless veterans. I always wonder, when I see them, if they believe that the people on The Wall itself were the lucky ones. Here is a living person who gazes at a memorial to those who didn't survive yet he, the living, is dishonored daily. The irony is enough to make me cry.

As I watched the ceremony laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier this morning and saw that it was Cheney who did the honors and heard the reporter stating that Bush was in Crawford engaged in "critical meetings", I became incensed. That passed, though - because I don't know how I could expect better of a person who didn't serve and who currently treats living veterans like GARBAGE. The only bright spot with this Veteran's Day and the days leading up to it was the attention that the homeless veteran story received within the more mainstream press. What better time to show the criminal treatment veterans are receiving than nearly simultaneous with Cheney's wreath-laying and Bush's speech at the Waco VFD? Does he think that whatever words he spoke this day have truly spoken louder than his actions?

Sadly, there are living memorials across this country. Right now I can tell you for certain that there's an encampment under an overpass on 395 north - I see them there all the time, camped out. They are more valuable than any stone or engraving that men's minds can conceive.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Management said...

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More than 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States are military veterans, although they represent 11 percent of the civilian adult population, according to a new report.

On any given night last year, nearly 196,000 veterans slept on the street, in a shelter or in transitional housing, the study by the Homelessness Research Institute found.

"Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people," the report said. "This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed and have a lower poverty rate than the general population."

The president of the institute's parent group appealed Thursday to lawmakers and civilians to help solve veteran homelessness before thousands of U.S. service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We know that veterans don't immediately become homeless after they're discharged, but the difficulties may take years to emerge," Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, said in a news conference about the report's findings.

Ben Israel, a veteran originally from North Carolina's Camp Lejeune, told reporters at the briefing that his "main problem has always been housing."

Israel said he had been homeless in several cities, including Atlanta, Georgia, Dallas, Texas, and Portland, Oregon.

"I slept in my car many a night," he said, "trying to get to a day labor job because I got kicked out of a shelter at 6 a.m."

The states with the highest number of homeless veterans include Louisiana, California and Missouri, according to the research. Washington, D.C., also had a high rate.

About 44,000 to 64,000 veterans are classified as "chronically homeless" -- homeless for long periods or repeatedly.

Other veterans -- nearly 468,000 -- are experiencing "severe housing cost burden," or paying more than half their income for housing, thereby putting them at a high risk for homelessness.

The rates of the burden of housing costs were highest in Rhode Island, California, Nevada and Hawaii, but the nation's capital had the highest rate, according to the organization.

To reduce chronic homelessness among veterans by half, the report concluded housing coupled with supportive services should be increased by 25,000 units, and the number of housing vouchers for veterans should be increased by 20,000.

Veterans such as Jason Kelley find themselves in a Catch-22, not able to find a job because of the lack of an apartment, and not being able to get an apartment because of not having a job, The Associated Press reported.

"The only training I have is infantry training, and there's not really a need for that in the civilian world," the AP quoted Kelley as saying in a phone interview. In addition, he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he told the AP. Kelley served in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard, the news agency said.

A new Gallup Poll released by Fannie Mae showed that nearly a quarter of veterans, or 24 percent, report having been concerned they may not have a place to live. Eighty-six percent of poll respondents believe homelessness among veterans is either staying at the same level or increasing.

In addition, 61 percent of poll respondents believe veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are at least as likely to become homeless as veterans of previous wars.

The poll of 1,005 veterans was conducted September 4-October 17 and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...

national disgrace: About a quarter of U.S. homeless people are veterans
Tribune Editorial
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:11/10/2007 12:18:12 PM MST
If you're like us, you may be skeptical of the ragged man holding a cardboard sign that reads, "Homeless vet. Please help." Well, think about this. A report last week concluded that fully a quarter of homeless people in the United States are military veterans.
That is a scandal.
Even more disturbing is the news from the same study that veterans of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are turning up on our streets already, many suffering from mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. These terrible injuries often are due to the concussive force inflicted by improvised explosive devices, the deadly IEDs that are a favorite anti-American weapon in Iraq. Untreated, these illnesses often lead to substance abuse.
That is an outrage.
Our nation sent these men and women - yes, many homeless vets are females - into harm's way. As a nation, we have a moral obligation to care for those who cannot care for themselves due to war injuries.
If Veterans Day means anything, it should mean that.
The study, by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, concluded that while veterans represent about 11 percent of the adult civilian population, they account for 26 percent of the homeless population. The report relied on data from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau.
It estimated that there are 530 homeless vets in Utah.
So what can be done?
The study recommends three measures:
First, establish a risk assessment process to occur within the first 30 days after a veteran is discharged. It suggests a pilot program of homelessness prevention be tried in three locations in the nation, one of them rural. It could provide temporary subsidies, eviction prevention and one-time assistance for vets who fall behind on their rent.
Second, create so-called supportive housing that is tied to treatment for mental illness and substance abuse. Between 44,000 and 66,000 vets are chronically homeless. Over five years, the nation could create 25,000 housing units for about $3 billion in capital costs and $1.2 billion for operations. By comparison, the United States is spending about $8 billion per month on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Finally, expand rental assistance to vets. The operating cost of 20,000 such vouchers would be $175 million annually.
Those veterans who gave their best, many in repeated, grinding tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, deserve at least this much. They did their duty. Now it's time for the rest of us to do ours.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Veterans Day, November 11, is a national holiday set aside to honor the men and women who have served in America’s armed forces and to acknowledge the debt we owe them. However, a new study shows that veterans are more likely to be homeless than those in the general population, and that, nationwide, veterans tend to have less access to health care and other supportive services than they need.

The study, which was done by the Washington, D.C.-based National Alliance to End Homelessness, also found that nearly half a million veterans were homeless at some time during 2006, and as many as 66,000 of those vets were chronically without shelter. And while veterans comprise only 11 percent of the American population, they make up one of every four of the nation’s homeless.

Combat veterans are especially at risk, says Steven Berg, the Alliance’s vice president for policy and programs. “When people serve in battle, particularly, they come back and they’re injured,” Berg says. “They‘re injured with physical disabilities, they are injured with mental disabilities, and that all makes it hard for people to get jobs and pay rent and stay housed.”

Even if a veteran has enough money to pay for his or her rent, the difficulty of coping with a disability can render one’s housing situation unstable, whether one is living with family members, alone in an apartment, or in another scenario.

“And once they are homeless, that [in itself] can create a ‘downward spiral,’” Berg says.

For some homeless veterans, that downward spiral actually began during their military service.

“My problems [are] related to my experiences in Vietnam, and all the carnage and the mayhem and the suffering that I’ve seen,” says Arthur Williams, a homeless Vietnam-era veteran in New York.

He says that guilt over his wartime actions explains the severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and drug addiction he has today. “And it has a profound effect on my head. I killed and maimed.”

When asked whether he connects those acts to his homelessness, Williams does not hesitate. “Yes. From my experience in the military, I became a beast, and I felt that it would be more rewarding for me to really live in the wild like an animal. Because I felt that’s what the war turned me into.”

In contrast to earlier American wars, where only men engaged in combat, many veterans returning from today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are women. The new study found that female veterans are more likely to be homeless than non-veteran females, and that overall, female veterans are more likely to be homeless than their male counterparts.

A report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service indicates that significant numbers of female American soldiers suffer sexual abuse during their military service. Such abuse can in turn contribute to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental illnesses that can lead to homelessness.

But for vets and non-vets alike, simple bad luck can also put you on the street. That’s what happened to Vietnam veteran George Hicks, who was homeless for a time after his discharge. Hicks insists that his wartime experience did not cause him to be homeless, but that being a vet helped him out once he was.

“The Veterans Hospital here in Manhattan helped out quite a bit. They have what they call a ‘Section Eight’ program, a veterans homeless program. I lucked out. If I didn’t know anything about that I would have been totally lost.”

But many veterans do not take advantage of the benefits that are available, either because they are not well informed of them when they are discharged, or because they don’t know how to navigate through the complex bureaucracy at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s a system that can be especially daunting for the mentally ill.

“So the very problem for which they need the benefits makes it harder or impossible to get the benefits,” says Steven Berg of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

For those with severe disabilities, the Alliance recommends increased funding for what it calls “support supportive housing.”

“It’s affordable housing combined with mental health treatment, addiction treatment, other kinds of support services,” Berg explains, “so people can be stably housed and work on these other issues.” The goal is to make them productive members of society once again.

Berg adds that veterans without severe disabilities may need short-term housing subsidies and enhanced employment programs to avoid homelessness.

“We know these things work, but a lot of veterans need help and don’t get it,” he says.

Nearly 200,000 Americans are currently serving in the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. This Veteran's Day, many Americans will be hoping not only for their safety on the battlefield, but for campassionate care and secure shelter for the veterans once they return.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Management said...

One in Four Veterans are Homeless
By , The Associated Press
Posted on November 9, 2007, Printed on November 11, 2007

Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11% of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education non-profit, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.

In comparison, the VA says that 20 years ago, the estimated number of veterans who were homeless on any given night was 250,000.

Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

"We're going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous," said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.

While services to homeless veterans have improved in the past 20 years, advocates say more financial resources still are needed. With the spotlight on the plight of Iraq veterans, they hope more will be done to prevent homelessness and provide affordable housing to the younger veterans while there's a window of opportunity.

"When the Vietnam War ended, that was part of the problem. The war was over, it was off TV, nobody wanted to hear about it," said John Keaveney, a Vietnam veteran and a founder of New Directions in Los Angeles, which provides substance abuse help, job training and shelter to veterans.

"I think they'll be forgotten," Keaveney said of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. "People get tired of it. It's not glitzy that these are young, honorable, patriotic Americans. They'll just be veterans, and that happens after every war."

Keaveney said it's difficult for his group to persuade some homeless Iraq veterans to stay for treatment and help because they don't relate to the older veterans. Those who stayed have had success — one is now a stock broker and another is applying to be a police officer, he said.

"They see guys that are their father's age and they don't understand, they don't know, that in a couple of years they'll be looking like them," he said.

After being discharged from the military, Jason Kelley, 23, of Tomahawk, Wis., who served in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard, took a bus to Los Angeles looking for better job prospects and a new life.

Kelley said he couldn't find a job because he didn't have an apartment, and he couldn't get an apartment because he didn't have a job. He stayed in a $300-a-week motel until his money ran out, then moved into a shelter run by the group U.S. VETS in Inglewood, Calif. He's since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.

"The only training I have is infantry training and there's not really a need for that in the civilian world," Kelley said in a phone interview. He has enrolled in college and hopes to move out of the shelter soon.

The Iraq vets seeking help with homelessness are more likely to be women, less likely to have substance abuse problems, but more likely to have mental illness — mostly related to post-traumatic stress, said Pete Dougherty, director of homeless veterans programs at the VA.

Overall, 45% of participants in the VA's homeless programs have a diagnosable mental illness and more than three out of four have a substance abuse problem, while 35% have both, Dougherty said.

Historically, a number of fighters in U.S. wars have become homeless. In the post-Civil War era, homeless veterans sang old Army songs to dramatize their need for work and became known as "tramps," which had meant to march into war, said Todd DePastino, a historian at Penn State University's Beaver campus who wrote a book on the history of homelessness.

After World War I, thousands of veterans — many of them homeless — camped in the nation's capital seeking bonus money. Their camps were destroyed by the government, creating a public relations disaster for President Herbert Hoover.

The end of the Vietnam War coincided with a time of economic restructuring, and many of the same people who fought in Vietnam were also those most affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs, DePastino said.

Their entrance to the streets was traumatic and, as they aged, their problems became more chronic, recalled Sister Mary Scullion, who has worked with the homeless for 30 years and co-founded of the group Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia.

"It takes more to address the needs because they are multiple needs that have been unattended," Scullion said. "Life on the street is brutal and I know many, many homeless veterans who have died from Vietnam."

The VA started targeting homelessness in 1987, 12 years after the fall of Saigon. Today, the VA has, either on its own or through partnerships, more than 15,000 residential rehabilitative, transitional and permanent beds for homeless veterans nationwide. It spends about $265 million annually on homeless-specific programs and about $1.5 billion for all health care costs for homeless veterans.

Because of these types of programs and because two years of free medical care is being offered to all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Dougherty said they hope many veterans from recent wars who are in need can be identified early.

"Clearly, I don't think that's going to totally solve the problem, but I also don't think we're simply going to wait for 10 years until they show up," Dougherty said. "We're out there now trying to get everybody we can to get those kinds of services today, so we avoid this kind of problem in the future."

In all of 2006, the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 495,400 veterans were homeless at some point during the year.

The group recommends that 5,000 housing units be created per year for the next five years dedicated to the chronically homeless that would provide permanent housing linked to veterans' support systems. It also recommends funding an additional 20,000 housing vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans, and creating a program that helps bridge the gap between income and rent.

Following those recommendations would cost billions of dollars, but there is some movement in Congress to increase the amount of money dedicated to homeless veterans programs.

On a recent day in Philadelphia, case managers from Project H.O.M.E. and the VA picked up William Joyce, 60, a homeless Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair who said he'd been sleeping at a bus terminal.

"You're an honorable veteran. You're going to get some services," outreach worker Mark Salvatore told Joyce. "You need to be connected. You don't need to be out here on the streets."

7:07 PM  

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