The people in San Luis Obispo County, like many other places around the country, have diverse and strong opinions about the current military campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These diverse opinions can and do create some heated arguments among the locals.
Regardless of that however, this county is extremely supportive of the troops. And that’s the way it should be.
In one store front window in downtown SLO, there is a "peace" memorial is. It contains who know how many thumbnail photographs of military personal. Some of the photographs seem to be from the Viet Nam era.
While, I’ve never been able to speak directly to anyone who is directly associated with the memorial, my guess is that the photos are of local people who lost there lives in one military campaign or another.
In Atascadero, one of the major supermarkets has one wall that contains photographs of local area persons who are currently deployed throughout the world, and even a few photographs of locals who have lost their lives.
Again, that’s the way it should be. We should honor those who are currently or have in the past, put their lives on the line by wearing the military uniform of this country.
Nationally, there are about 500,000 veterans who are homeless. This means that approximately, 1 out of every 4 adults who are homeless are veterans. Although I don’t know the exact number of homeless veterans in SLO County, I know for fact that there are quite a good number of homeless who have served in the military.
Yet, despite how strongly this county believes in supporting our troops, there is no agency or organization that is specifically geared for working with homeless veterans. Therefore, homeless veterans in SLO County have no advocate to help them transition back into the mainstream community. And, that boggles the mind – at least it boggles my mind.
How is it that a county can be so pro-troops and yet not have some agency designed to help veterans get the help they need?
Even the day center, which claims to have an outreach program to help homeless veterans doesn’t really do anything. And, I have not met one homeless veteran who is aware that the day center supposedly has this program.
If this program does indeed exist, shouldn’t it be utilized to it’s fullest potential – especially when one considers just how pro-military this county is?
But the question that keeps coming to my mind is: How is it that so many within our own community are unaware of just how many homeless veterans reside within the very borders of our county?
Perhaps it is time for us to take a good look at ourselves and ask: Just how much do we really honor those who have served? Or is it all just a bunch of empty words?