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Monday, November 12, 2007

Homeless Veterans Live in RV’s

Today is Veteran’s Day and so we at RV Now render honors and salute you with the utmost respect and say a hearty “Thank You” for protecting our Constitution and American way of life. I’m a proud veteran and my son is currently a 2LT in the Army. So we love and appreciate our men and women in uniform past, present and future. This week we were told (interesting they chose this week to release this) supposedly one in four homeless people are veterans. There is a reason for this which I will explain. The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a non-profit organization, didn’t really go out and pole the homeless people using scientific means to arrive at this number, they just pulled it out of the air based on “estimated” data from the Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Census Bureau. I don’t know about you, but I find suspect any data the government produces. Why? Because it has been wrong so many times in the past. It’s not that the government is intentionally lying, it’s mostly in the way they ask questions and gather information and then marshal it to support a government program. The VA has a vested interest in making sure there are plenty of homeless veterans represented in the numbers because it increases funding for their homeless veterans program. Like it or not that’s just how government statistics work. OK, before you start sending me hate mail, let me tell you that I too am a homeless veteran because I live full time in an RV. The Census Bureau doesn’t have any other category in which to place me so I count in this stupid statistic. I’ve met thousands of veterans who are also full time RVers living quite comfortably in their RV’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. They don’t miss any meals and in fact they often go down the the senior center for free meals with their friends. When they do this they get “counted” as homeless seeking assistance. None of them are out holding a sign asking for money. That is not to say there are not a great many homeless veterans living on the street. The military taught them how to survive outdoors (the infantry jokingly refers to itself as the “mud and rain boys”). I’ve actually interviewed many homeless people (something the people writing these reports ought to try sometime). Some are veterans, most are not. Recently my brother-in-law and I picked up a hitchhiker who was a homeless veteran. He loved his lifestyle and would not change anything about his lifestyle. He gets a paycheck from the VA every month and has a checking and savings account. He likes to live in “camps” where groups of homeless people congregate. These people are not “insane” or suffering from some psychological war injury, although they will play that “game” with the VA in order to get a monthly check. No, these people actually CHOOSE to live like this. Just like I choose to be a full time RVer. Many people don’t understand how one could choose to be a full time RVer without being a taco short of a combo plate, but that’s the reality. I’m homeless by choice and wouldn’t have it any other way. Many more men would be homeless if it were not for the military giving them a shot at a good life. The military takes a snot nosed kid who has run over his parent/s and turns them into men. There are many successful men who can directly attribute their success to the discipline and skills they learned in the military. The military and the war in Iraq does NOT turn men into raving lunatics who panhandle on street corners. Take some time and actually go talk to these people with the signs and find out what their life is about - you’ll be surprised. The military is a microcosm of the U.S. population therefore we have our share of criminals in the military. These kids on the margins of the law somehow get waivers to join the military and we give them a chance. Unfortunately many of them do not change their ways and get booted out but they’re still considered “Veterans” by the VA depending on the type of discharge they get. I suspect these people would have been homeless anyway. Alcoholism and drug abuse are huge contributors to homelessness and veterans are no different than the rest of the population. The military has it’s share of alcoholics just like any other profession (however we weed out the druggies early because of aggressive drug testing). I tell you this to help you get a perspective on the issue because these so called “facts” presented by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the VA and other government organizations are manufactured to get funding for programs that we don’t need at taxpayers expense. The church was doing just fine taking care of the homeless until the government got involved and now it’s become a “Homeless Industry” with high paid CEO’s running not-for- profit organizations to take care of the “homeless problem”. These people take advantage of your caring heart and play your “heart strings” to get you to send money and support candidates who have a “homeless platform” with the aim to pass more laws and charge taxpayers more money to take care of something that is not a problem in the first place. In fact, I will argue that this new homeless industry has actually encouraged more homelessness. Why should someone have to work when everything is just handed to them? I’ve worked with the homeless and know first hand what I’m talking about. That's me in front of a warehouse full of food I was able to "rescue" from destruction and redirect to the truly needy. For the most part homeless people are homeless by choice. Their life choices lead them to this destination and nothing you do for them, no amount of money, no amount of food, no amount of shelter and no amount of love will make them choose differently. Still feeling sorry for them? Then go work with them for a while and see if you still feel the same way. Happy Veteran’s Day - Jim Twamley, Homeless Veteran and Professor of RVing



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