By Cheryl Jones
August 30, 2014. Jefferson, TX. (ONN) As a child, my grandmother housed and cared for World War II and Korean War Veterans. Up to 20 veterans at a time. She cared for them 24/7/365 for the rest of their lives. Sometimes she would take me with her and the veterans to the VA Hospital. I saw how they were treated back then (50 years ago). I have come to the conclusion that nothing has changed. By Cheryl Jones, Founder and CEO of American Homeless Families Foundation.
Image courtesy of Honor-The-Sacrifice.org.
The VA Medical Scandal
You have seen it all over the news. Veterans die while waiting for their doctors appointments. Wait times of up to 2 months. At the Durham VA Medical Center, I have personally seen wait times of 7 months, that's 30 weeks/210 days, for a veteran’s first primary care doctors appointment. And he never saw the doctor, only the nurse. This veteran didn't see his doctor for another 2 months after that, which is a total of 9 months (39 weeks/270 days) to actually see his primary care physician.
This veteran, whose name I will not disclose, has extensive medical problems. Yet, when I took him to the VA emergency room, he was told, “We cannot do anything for you! You will have to wait for your doctor’s appointment!” That was in April, 2014 and his appointment hadn't even been scheduled yet. At that point in time, he had already been waiting 6-1/2 months.
After I took this veteran to the VA emergency room and saw how he was treated. I made a phone call to the VA Durham Medical Center, Director of Administrations, and spoke to her about my urgent concerns about this veteran. All of a sudden, this veteran received a call, telling him that he had an appointment in two weeks. USA Today wrote a news report about this scandal four days ago.
Knowing what I know about the VA, I see how veterans end up homeless on the streets of our great nation. So, I take it upon myself to help the veterans. I have found that this is one of my passions in life. We all have passions and we should act on our passions. Acting on our passions gives us purpose and happiness. Isn't that what life is about?
Wounded Homeless Veterans
As a widow of a veteran, I find this appalling. These brave men and women fought for the very freedoms that have been taken away from them. The freedoms of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. As I walk through the streets, I see disparage on their faces and pain in their eyes. As they beg for help, people ignore them as though they are a disposable subhuman species. Yet, they stand there with patriotism in their hearts, in hopes that someday people will see them as a person not an animal. Wounded physically and mentally by the dishonor, submerged in desperation to survive with no food or shelter.
The Veterans Administration Reports there are 57,849 Homeless Veterans, 45,170 Wounded Veterans and 6,251 Soldiers Killed In Action. Over 800,000 veterans have applied for disability. 466,877 veterans are at-risk of homelessness.
US Census Report - December 2013
US Census reports that there are 310,750,000 people in the United States, with an adult population of 225,915,250. The Conference of Mayors in December 2013 stated that the Annual Point-In-Time Count of Homeless People reported a total of 610,042 homeless nationwide with an estimate that 25% are veterans.
In the US Conference of Mayors, December 2013, Hunger and Homelessness Survey of the 25 largest cities in the US, the Point-In-Time annual count of homeless, it has been noted that homelessness goes hand in hand with hunger, with the total number of homeless individuals increasing 52% over the past year, according to the survey. There's been a 40% increase in Los Angeles and a 24% increase in Dallas, just to name a few. The impact of cuts in SNAP benefits and the inability of food assistance programs to meet the increased demand that results from these cuts were pointed out as the biggest challenge in addressing hunger in the coming year by most cities.
The Forgotten Veteran
With the sight of more and more veterans on the streets of America, and noting these two reports, combined with my experiences of the VA, it is obvious that our veterans are “the forgotten”. Used during wartime, then thrust into the streets by our own government. Abused and kicked in the teeth on the streets by their own people. The forgotten veteran, left on the streets to die alone with no hope.
Helping Our Veterans
The American Homeless Families Foundation is committed to Saving Our Veterans. Renovating foreclosed homes, to move-in readiness, fully stocked with food, cooking and storage utensils, toiletries, furniture, appliances, TV, phone and internet. We are giving back the freedoms to the men and women that fought for our freedoms. It is a great honor to be able to lift these courageous veterans up and give them the necessities of life and the opportunity to a rewarding self sustaining lifestyle.
Yet, we do not stop at housing and feeding our veterans. When we find a veteran that needs immediate medical care, we act upon that need. We do not stand around and say, “Oh Well!” That's because “We Care!”
Saving Our Veterans
The American people have always come together to help people in need - family, friends, neighbors and even strangers. Through joint efforts we are coming together to “Save Our Veterans!” Since 2008, there have been 4.9 million homes foreclosed, with a foreclosure rate still at 45,000 a month. By renovating foreclosed homes, which are deteriorating because they are empty, we save the lives of veterans and rebuild our communities, strengthening our path to rebuilding America!
How you can help
American Homeless Families Foundation has a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. Claim one of our perks and display your support for our veterans. Please make a donation to “Save Our Veterans!” Share our campaign with all your friends and family.
The above article was written by Cheryl Jones, Founder & CEO of American Homeless Families Foundation. Americans Helping Americans – Together we are changing the lives of our wounded homeless and forgotten veterans! To All Veterans, “We THANK YOU For Your Service!”