Half A Billion Dollars

Posted: May 17, 2008 in Government, Homelessness, Morality, Politics, Veterans

Memorial Day is this coming Monday.

According to the Memorial Day Site, Memorial Day – originally known as Decoration Day – was

"…officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868."

The purpose was to remember and honor those who have fallen in service to this nation.  

As a nation, we have taken on an American Idol mentality and seem to be gluttonously obsessed with "reality TV." However, when it comes down to the actually reality of "reality TV" we seem to conveniently disregard the truth that the "reality" as presented to us is contrived. But we don’t care about that, so long as we get some entertainment out of it.

The truth is that we don’t want to be confronted by reality. If we did, we would turn off the "boob tube" and take a good look at the world around us.

Instead this weekend, we’ll be sitting in front of the television watching sporting events and other nonsensical programs while the burgers and hot dogs are cooking on the grill. There are precious few of us who will pause long enough to think about those men and woman who have given their lives in service to this nation.

This morning, the news announced that Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy was taken to the hospital after having suffered several seizures. Political leaders and citizens all across the nation having been offering their best wishes and saying prayers for his recovery. But how many of those same politicians or citizens are offering prayers for those men and women who have lost their lives fight out nation’s wars?

Even worse – how many of those politicians are praying for the thousands upon thousands of veterans whose homes are the streets of this nation’s cities? These men and women – many of whom have seen combat – have been cast aside by the very society they fought to protect. They are often times denied the very freedoms and rights that the rest of us demand for ourselves.

Because of the stigmas attached to homelessness so many of this nation’s homeless Veterans are treated with scorn and disdain. They are viewed as "dregs of society." They have obscenities shouted at them. They are disregarded, ignored, shooed away and, in some instances find themselves victims of violent crimes by "housed" members of the community.

In many ways, for our nation’s homeless Veterans, having to live life on the streets is a fate worse than death.

Instead of being treated with the honor, dignity and respect that they have earned, we treat them with prejudice, disgust and contempt – and all because they’re homeless.

According to the Background and Statistics page on the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans website,

Although accurate numbers are impossible to come by — no one keeps national records on homeless veterans — the VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country.

That we continue to tolerate the inaction of our elected leaders to enact meaningful legislation to provide genuine solutions – and the funding – for ending homelessness among Veterans, does not speak well of us as a society. If anything, it makes us out to be petty minded and selfish.

On the Open Secrets website, it gives the total amounts of campaign funds raised by each of this year’s Presidential contenders in hopes of becoming the next residents of the White House.

Senator Obama, $234,745,081; Senator Clinton, $189,097,053; and Senator McCain, $76,691,826.

Between the three of them, they have raised a collective total of $500,533,960. That’s an awful lot of money to put out just so that one of them can live in the White House for the next four years. Maybe they could find a cheaper place to live and spend that money on something worth while – like affordable housing for the rest of us.

A half a billion dollars would sure go a long way at ensuring that our nation’s homeless Veterans had a place to live.

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