05 Apr A TO Z: 26 ISSUES TRANSITIONING VETERANS FACE #8
Living on the street or in a car is not the same as sleeping on the ground or a Humvee in combat. Yet, for many veterans, this is a reality. After all you’ve given, no veteran should be homeless; however, life’s not fair and if this happens to you, you need to know there is help. And while your pride may tell you otherwise, there are shelters, local, state and federal programs made to give you a hand up – not a handout.
Some states have dealt with this issue better than others and several federal programs exist to help. The goal is to find temporary placement while finding a permanent solution. Sounds like a straightforward process, however, it is anything but. It can be very humbling. After serving your country, you don’t expect to face such turmoil.
I have experienced being homeless and it’s not easy to talk about. While writing my second book, Our Journey: Heart to Heart with God, I was between jobs for almost six months, living off small savings down in Florida at a friend’s house. When the money ran out and I couldn’t afford to pay my bills; I decided to move back home and to try to find a job closer to my children. When I got there, I used a local gym to shower and I was sleeping in my truck. It was horrible and I really did not like myself very much.
This lasted for about a week, before I reached out for help. Help was filling out many forms, trying to explain why someone with a Master’s Degree is sleeping in his truck. The hardest part was being a former Sergeant in the US Army and a GS12 Investigator with the Department of Labor (a 13-year government career), and feeling completely alone with no support. The reason I share this is because homelessness can happen to anyone.
Having a good paying job and benefits helps us get on our feet. That’s why supporting our military with resources and education is critical to our economic development. I was able to get a job soon after, but I learned a lot about myself. The more awareness there is, the better the results will be. No veteran should be living on the street. We have to work together on this mission.