THE WAR COMES HOME
Iraq war veterans feel they are
being cast aside. Three vets explain in their own words.
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700,000 Homeless Veterans
STRIPES: Helping vets resume civilian lives
March 23, 2008
By Rena Fulka, Staff writer
Former airman Michael White considers himself a success story.
"I was in the Air Force for almost 21 years, and when I retired, I couldn't find a job," said White, who spent most of his military career stationed in Europe.
"I felt disassociated from civilian life, and I had trouble fitting in. I was depressed, and I wanted to talk, but I had no network. After 20 years, when you have to put the Mr. back in
your name, it's not as easy as you thought it would be."
With help from the Rev. Al Garcia at New Life Oak Forest Church, White made a successful transition back to private citizen.
"Al kept me uplifted, got me through the hard times, and I got a job," said the medical administrator from Oak Forest.
Now, White wants to do the same for other returning soldiers through STRIPES, a community forum designed to help able-bodied veterans acclimate to civilian life.
"An able-bodied vet can be just as disabled as anyone who got shot, but he hides it better. He looks fine and smiles, but he's a mess," White said.
National statistics show 700,000 veterans are homeless, unemployed or a combination of both, White said.
"And the homeless ratio is growing and being filled with vets coming out of the service."
White and the Rev. Rob Schoon, of Orland Park, are laying the groundwork for the new Oak Forest ministry, which is an acronym for "Surviving trauma, receiving inner peace,
Schoon is a Marine veteran who now serves as a chaplain with the Marine Corps League. He visits veterans organizations and hospitals on a regular basis.
"Veterans are people who had such productive lives before the service," Schoon said. "They served their country honorably and did what they were supposed to do. Now, they're
back, they're hurting, and someone has to help them. And most people in the civilian world don't understand the problem these guys and girls are having."
go here for the rest >>http://www.southtownstar.com/lifestyles/852080,032308VETSTRIPES.article
When we get figures from the government, we need to think twice if we believe them or not. 700,000 comes from a more realistic rate because some veterans are homeless at
some point during the year. This is not a new trend but it is a higher one. There are chronically homeless veterans who never find a place to live and there are some who find a
place with family or friends. Their luck usually runs out if they happen to have other issues like PTSD and are not getting help. While the government would want us to believe
they have suddenly reduced the number of homeless veterans below 200,000, we still have not seen the data on where the other homeless veterans w
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Words are another way. Below are the stories of three veterans of this war, told in their voices, edited for flow and efficiency but otherwise
unchanged. They bear out the statistics and suggest that even those who are not diagnosably impaired return burdened by experiences they can
neither forget nor integrate into their postwar lives. They speak of the inadequacy of what the military calls reintegration counseling, of the
immediacy of their worst memories, of their helplessness in battle, of the struggle to rejoin a society that seems unwilling or unable to
comprehend the price of their service. Strangers to one another and to me, they nevertheless tried, sometimes through tears, to communicate
what the intensity of an ambiguous war has done to them. One veteran, Sue Randolph, put it this way: “People walk up to me and say, ‘Thank you
for your service.’ And I know they mean well, but I want to ask, ‘Do you know what you’re thanking me for?’” She, Rocky, and Michael Goss offer
their stories here in the hope that citizens will begin to know.