In the heat of an unrelenting summer, an American general is dispatched to evacuate hundreds of homeless veterans gathered on the streets of the nation’s capital, begging for their pension to be paid in one lump sum. They called themselves “The Bonus Army” and were comprised of WWI veterans condemned by the Great Depression to return to battle within their own country, against their own government, for a debt to be paid.
They called the camps Hoovervilles.
The year was 1932. The president, a Republican named Herbert Hoover, seemingly hid from the plight of homeless ex-soldiers behind the skirts of a split Congress. With the embarrassment of his inability to reason with the encampments, he ordered the military to disperse the peaceful protests.
Public outrage over the Hoover administration’s treatment of veterans propelled Franklin Delano Roosevelt into office just a few short months later. Roosevelt did a smidgeon better by offering employment opportunities through enlarging government with his New Deal policies, yet fell short in paying out earned pensions.
The veteran population has been treated with indifference over the decades by both Republicans and Democrats. Although some steps have been taken by every administration, all have fallen short of ending the homelessness crisis.
Once again, veterans are out of vogue as the current plight of illegal aliens and Dreamers hog the media’s attention.
Where is America’s Patriotic Spirit?
On any given night in the United States of America, 40,056 men and women who faithfully put their lives on the line for our freedoms, are chronically homeless.
And here is the rub for Democrats who have placed illegals above veterans: according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “Roughly 45% of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic.”
Are they not as photogenic for the cause?
And as for the Golden State and their humanitarian efforts in providing sanctuary cities for illegals, they once again rate number one for the most shameful treatment of Americans. They boast 11,472 veterans living on their streets but there is no outcry from Hollywood and no GoFundMe pages to assist local shelters, only indifference.
What makes those numbers criminal is that out of 24 members of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, four are representatives from California. Why haven’t they fought harder for our veterans?
Warriors to Civilians
Dr. Katherine Harris has borne witness to America’s treatment of veterans during her tenure as a veteran spouse and expat, and with over 20 years of expertise on the transition from military to civilian life, has written extensively on the plight of the returning soldier. She writes:
“It is a different kind of battlefield. It is fought under bridges, on streets and tucked away in dark alleyways. You are fighting against inadequate medical care, PTSD, substance abuse, no job opportunities, unpaid benefits, no place to live, and dysfunctional relationships, all in the aftermath of service to this country.
We don’t want to hear about it, see it, or even say it… they are our homeless veterans, our nation’s silent shame.”
Perhaps our returning veterans are not ones to ask for assistance. Their voices are quiet in their quest to readjust to pre-deployment life, as all the while others roar for the privilege of becoming an American. Whether their troubles spring from pride, injury, PTSD or inability to seek moral and just means to transition from warrior to civilian, should matter not to Americans. The electorate must rise up, in the loudest of voices, and demand our government put Americans first. Let’s not repeat the past mistakes of allowing our war heroes to reside in shanty towns.