US Veterans: homeless, left out in cold

Everywhere in America the signs are present. Homeless Veterans fill shelters, wandering the streets of the nation they swore to protect and serve.  Photo by Tim King Press TV

Everywhere in America the signs are present. Homeless Veterans fill shelters, wandering the streets of the nation they swore to protect and serve. Photo by Tim King Press TV

Politicians in the United States allow the Veterans Administration to operate at substandard levels, the results for former military personnel are devastating.

Tim King Press TV

(SALEM) Everywhere in America the signs are present… Homeless Veterans fill shelters, wandering the streets of the nation they swore to protect and serve. Young people seduced by the illusion of military heroism never have the reality of Veteran life revealed to them by tall talking recruiters. Steeped in lies and trained to deceive at all costs, recruiters keep their mouths shut with regard to the life devastating reality that will face most who serve. For many there are few answers, or none at all. The challenges become too vast; this is why suicide is such an innate problem in the Veteran community.

Human beings are not created to kill, it is that simple fact that leads to so many complications.

Why are so many Veterans on the losing side of the street?

There are many reasons. The United States does not wage war to bring freedom to far away countries, it does it strictly for profit and control. Not just control of other nations, but control of the American people themselves.

This took place after 11 September 2001, when anyone in the U.S. who objected to war or the “official story” about Osama bin Laden’s hijacking planes and launching attacks from a powerless cave in Pakistan, was leveled, or jailed or worse. Political clout drives patriots into a frenzy, and many joined the military because they genuinely believe their nation was threatened. Later, as Veterans, they learn that they only threat they ever faced came from their own disingenuous politicians and government.

On an individual level, most personal challenges in coping relate to problems the individuals experienced while serving their nation.

Wars based on fraudulent intelligence and staged for the sake of profit, do not leave a glowing feeling for Vets.  Many will never admit that the wars they fought in were totally wrong, and that the lives they took were innocent and undeserving of the wrath of America’s ultra powerful military machine. Those who come to terms with the fact that they were taken advantage of and used wrongly, frequently deal better with the inevitable problems and fallout from war service. Many who become associated with peace movements end up working directly with other Veterans and preventing homelessness in a hands-on way, which is incredibly effective.

Endless Sexual Harassment and Violence

Another reason many Veterans become homeless and unable to cope, is sexual violence. This act is perpetrated upon the majority of females who serve the United States in uniform. That may sound like an outrageous claim, but ask any woman who served, particularly during wartime, and you will hear the horror stories. One former U.S. Army soldier I recently interviewed was raped repeatedly, the first time during basic training.

People who survive sexual attacks are often hesitant to identify their abusers; sometimes their very lives are threatened, and this problem affects both genders, with women paying the biggest price. Sexual violence is prevalent in the U.S. military and there are not, nor have there ever been, adequate protections or effective measures against this type of criminal behavior.   Sexual trauma leads to hardcore Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in many cases, the worst possible personal choices.

Hazing and Ritualistic Cruelty

The U.S. Marine Corps in particular is known for “traditions” involving brutal and sadistic physical violence. It begins quite famously in basic training or “boot camp” and continues throughout Marine Corps service. While the acts mostly involve some form of physical violence, the scarring takes place in the mind and sometimes in the heart. The ranks of all of the U.S. military services include some form of illegal treatment, and recruits are unofficially trained to believe that reporting acts of violence in basic training equates to being weak or being a “rat.”

The trauma that leads to homelessness impacts Veterans who served in war, and those who did not.

Bush Opened High Schools to Recruiters

In one of the most outrageous acts of the Bush Administration, American public high schools were opened to recruiter visits; children’s information was made available to those charged with signing up American’s young for the military. Parents cringed and objected, knowing that the recruiters in their shiny uniforms have a major impact on boys and girls alike who are trying to formulate their life plan.

But instead of finding an opportunity to excel and grow in the military, youngsters find themselves at the receiving end of a barrage of foul insults and demeaning profanities. The disintegration process for many begins with this abuse.  The abuse causes a lack of functionality, I know this to be true from my own service in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Entering the service out of high school can be extremely damaging to one’s character, and many homeless Veterans are young, very young.

Bad Discharges – No Help From VA

Many homeless Veterans received less than honorable discharges. This eliminates all of their future hope for VA services to address their health problems, which often begin and end with PTSD. There are many Veterans who served valiantly in combat and saved lives, only to make a mistake and end up getting a “Bad Conduct” or “Other than Honorable” discharge. This paper removes their ability to ever seek VA services. Untreated, PTSD can lead to disastrous, murderous consequences.

Bad discharges are a way for the government to cut its obligation toward its military warriors. They prevent access to VA services, therefore saving the United States money. The results sometimes are taken out on the public or loved ones. Nothing about this system of elimination of government responsibility benefits the public or the Veteran. Instead it creates a wholesale liability factor.

Family Abandonment

Despite all of the yellow “Support the Troops” made in China bumper stickers plastered on the back of American cars and trucks, most Americans never will serve in uniform or understand those who do. The percentage of those who serve is surprisingly low. Retired Army lieutenant general, Karl W. Eikenberry, the United States commander in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, wrote in a NY Times opinion article titled, Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart:

For nearly two generations, no American has been obligated to join up, and few do. Less than 0.5 percent of the population serves in the armed forces, compared with more than 12 percent during World War II. Even fewer of the privileged and powerful shoulder arms. In 1975, 70 percent of members of Congress had some military service; today, just 20 percent do, and only a handful of their children are in uniform.

Those with no military connections generally know absolutely nothing about military service. It is noteworthy that families who remain open toward relatives returning from war often go through enormous changes in order to accommodate the effects of PTSD and other devastating war injuries. In other cases, all too often, families totally fail to support their sons and daughters and parents and siblings who survive service overseas.

It is true that PTSD and the effects of combat experience can bring violence and danger to a family, but with proper management and the utilization of proper resources, much success for Veterans remains possible.   While interviewing U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq during the summer of 2008, the consistent finding was that those who survive PTSD without consequence almost always have strong family support.

Toxic Surroundings

Hundreds of thousands of Veterans who served aboard contaminated military bases (All military bases are alive with deadly cancer-causing toxins) and cannot attain adequate healthcare. There are far more than most people realize, and the U.S. government does everything in its power to deny and distance itself from this extremely costly environmental disaster.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) was widely used on American bases from the WWII period onward. The chemical was used to clean airplanes and other equipment and poured into grates, where it was absorbed by underground water tables, creating toxic plumes which then migrate away from the military reservations, many of which are now closed… into residential neighborhoods and commercial districts. Service members contaminated with these chemicals often become so sick that they can’t work, once again those lacking adequate family support often become homeless.

In the end, the simple truth is that the United States government outspent itself, fighting wars without reason or purpose, relying on fear tactics, and draining the money that would have been used to adequately treat Veterans. The U.S. government is in the business of killing, not healing, and it has turned its back on its own Veteran community.



Tim King: Salem Insider Editor and Writer



With almost 25 years of experience on the west coast and worldwide as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor, Tim King is’s Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a ‘Good Neighbor Award’ for his reporting, by The Red Cross.


Tim’s years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu.

Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label ‘terrorist’ is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel’s destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide.

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