Monday, February 3, 2014

Homeless veterans

I'm going into pretty rough waters with this particular post.

I have noticed that to a certain extent that veterans are somewhat sacred cows alongside children and handicapped people.

It seems that when in doubt, drag the veterans, children and handicapped into things. Veterans seem only second to "Do if for the children".

I just had someone commenting that it was a disgrace that there are 150,000 homeless veterans out there.

Yeah? So?

While I suppose a number of them are likely mentally ill and ought to be scraped up and treated if it was service related, that leaves an awful lot of them out there that are likely living that way by choice.

Let's look what a veteran is. He is nothing more or less than a member of society that at one point wrote a check to the US government payable for up to his life. 

Many saw unspeakable horrors, but the majority did not.

I spent a hitch in an artillery unit and came out unscathed. 

My father flew over Europe and Japan in bombers. 

My uncle never left a 50 mile radius of home. He lived in a Boston suburb, got pulled out of college, got a fast basic in a post nearby and was assigned as an orderly in a hospital less than 10 miles from his home.

My scoutmaster was an infantry company commander in Europe and retreaded for Korea. He saw a lot of action.

I have a friend that is a veteran and for his hitch he worked on a tugboat assigned to the Corps of Engineers and worked on the inland waters.

One thing almost all veterans have under their belt that few non-vets have is a basic training of sorts, ranging from between 6 to 13 weeks depending on the service they were in. By the time they finish basic they have been given quite a few life skills that many people don't have.

From there most go onto a school of some sort where they receive further training. Some of this training is in high demand in the civilian market, some is not. All of the training is useful in one form or another later on after the service person is discharged.

In short, a veteran gets some pretty good training on the government's nickel. The training ain't cheap. It costs the taxpayer a pretty penny and the veteran is getting paid while receiving it.

Training can range from basic infantryman to nuclear power generation. Incidentally in the Army or Marines the infantryman's MOS is very coveted. There is no shortage of people trying to get into the grunts.

An Infantryman's job, surprisingly enough isn't just weapons related. Many of the skills a grunt develops can be taken to the workplace with him. A good grunt knows a lot more than weapons. He also learns logistics and how to deal with men.

A lot of former grunts head into public relations which sound odd but it isn't. Al Capone once said "You can go a long way with a smile, but you can go a lot further with a smile and a gun." Grunts going into PR simply put their gun away. Strangely enough, grunts often make pretty good PR men.

A GI generally gets out of his training with a basic work ethic beaten into him and that's good for a lot in later life.

After training the GI generally is assigned to a job of some sort in a unit and it is here where he makes or breaks his career. Some do well, some don't. Most do pretty good. It's pretty much up to the individual.

In my outfit we had people ranging from doers and shakers to downright duds. It's really pretty much the same all over either in service or at an outside workplace.

In short the point here is that veterans wind up with training a lot of people don't have. Unless there is something wrong with them mentally there really isn't a whole lot of reason for them to be homeless unless it's by choice.

Just about any former GI has enough skills to get by and find himself a place to live and take care of himself. 

I'll let you in on a little secret. The first decade I was out of the service I was pretty much homeless. It was pretty much by choice. 
To me at the time rent seemed like a waste of money.
 I worked when I felt like it, spent my money as I saw fit and never missed a meal. I generally ate better than a lot of people looking back on it. 

Not too many people can admit they'd often say, "Not King crab...again!"

I lived on a barter economy and did fairly well by my own judgement. Having a place to stay simply wasn't a priority. I was just as content sleeping in a cardboard refrigerator box as I was sleeping at the Ritz.

When I wanted to change my lifestyle, I simply did. I got a job and buckled down.

So the next time you want to use the 150,000 homeless veterans out there as an excuse to push some socialistic program, think again. 
The truth is, life's about choices and the majority of the homeless veterans are there because that is simply the life they chose.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY


  1. I also think grunts make good PR guys because, unlike the kids with their fancy college degrees, they actually learned dealing with real people in reality.

    See, in college, you sign up for courses, you do what is required and then get a bachelor. Done. Most of the time most students will get their knowledge from textbooks. They have little to no hands on time.

    Meanwhile in the army, the way even I experienced it, you get a position in your unit because your commander and your sergeant, who see all, notice that you have a knack for something. They notice you have a talent and, if they have their wits together, foster that.

    Of course in both cases it's not a 100% thing, but from what I've experienced this is how things are.

  2. Speaking of the vets from WW2.

    My grandfather came from from the war after being a POW. The country was in ruins. My grandmother was in the BDM and worked on a farm during the war. That was before farmers had all the fancy machines and computers and most of the farm work was really hard.

    When the war was finally over and the country in ruins what did they do?

    They got to work. Thousands of people were effectively homeless. Chancellor Figl's famous Christmas speech from 1945 says it all. He said "I can't give you any bread. I can't give you any coal. I can't give you candles for your Christmas tree, if you even have one. I can't give you anything. We have nothing. All I can do is ask you to believe in this Austria."

    And this generation rebuilt it all.

    Or the grandmother of my other ex-gf in Japan. She survived Hiroshima by sheer dumb luck when she was 16. She then moved to Tokyo because there was still some family alive. Essentially she walked there because transport was broken as well. Tokyo at the end of the war was a wasteland. The people, too, were essentially all homeless. But they got everything together and worked their butts off.

    I think that's the big difference in attitude. They could have sat down in the dirt and whined about everything. They chose not to.