Dear President-Elect Obama,
To begin, let me congratulate you on having been elected as the next President of the United States. As President-elect, I’m sure the next two months will be busy ones as you begin preparations to take the oath of office. I’m hoping that as you begin assembling members of your Cabinet that you will not surround yourself with nothing but "yes men."
I realize that you have a lot on your plate right now, but there were couple of things that struck me about your victory speech.
First, I thought it was great when you informed your two daughters that they would be getting the puppy you promised them. They must have been ecstatic at the very thought of having a new puppy make the trip to the nation’s Capital when you and your family take residence in the White House. It actually brought a smile to my face. What a blessing to be a parent. What a proud Daddy you must be. And how proud your daughters must be of you – even at their age.
I’m willing to bet that there a quite a number of children who wish their parents would get them a puppy. Children are like that, you know – they like puppies and kittens.
But are you aware that there are approximately 1.35 million children who aren’t wishing their parents will give them a puppy? They are America’s homeless children. They’re hoping for something more basic. They’re secretly looking forward to the day when their parents are able to provide them with a place they can call home.
Quite a number of them are also hoping that their community’s homeless shelters aren’t full this evening so that they’ll be able to sleep in a bed tonight. For those who are turned away from the shelter, their parents will have the additional task of trying to find somewhere safe and secluded for themselves and their children to sleep – which isn’t an easy feat. The streets of no city are completely safe for anyone. Then of course, there is the possibility that they may be "rousted" by local law enforcement. Most cities frown on homeless people "sleeping in public" – despite there being a noticeable lack of available shelter beds in almost every community.
There was another line in your speech which gave me pause to reflect,
Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
It’s a bittersweet reality that some of those men and women currently serving as part of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom will become homeless within a short period of time after coming "back to the world." A number of them will be suffering the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but will not receive adequate support, either from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or from their local communities.
In fact, there are nearly 500,000 veterans who will have experienced homelessness this year. They too, at one time in their lives, served this nation. Yet now, because they happen to find themselves homeless, most of them are treated as outcasts by the rest of society.
I read the following paragraph in one of the most recent news articles,
Obama has said his first order of presidential business will be to tackle the economy. He has also pledged to withdraw most U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.
While I approve of your withdrawing our troops from Iraq, I wonder if you’ve given thought to trying to ensure that not one of them end up homeless – or at the very least, putting into place some types of support programs to reduce the potential of them becoming homeless. It doesn’t do any good to bring them home and then allow them to be treated as discarded persons just because they are no longer active military personnel.
Throughout your candidacy for President, you kept telling the American people that it was time for change.
Truth to be told Senator, change will occur whether we want it to or not. That’s just the way life works. Whether the changes will be positive and beneficial – only time will tell.
On Inauguration Day, as you take the Oath of Office, I hope that you will remember your words:
And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
This year alone, 3.5 million American’s will have experienced homelessness. Many of them voted during this election cycle. Despite their being homeless – you have an obligation to them too – regardless of whether they voted for you or not. Do not let partisan politics keep you from hearing their voices and their cries for help.
I know you have a specific agenda you’d like to pursue. Most Presidents do. I’m hoping that finding ways of effective addressing and reducing homelessness across our nation becomes an important part of that agenda. I hope that helping this nation’s homeless become "regular" housed members of society again, will be part of your agenda to bring about positive change to our country.
Please, don’t let them down. Don’t forget about them, like so many on Capital Hill and in society do.
– michael –