Our first-world society is really the irresponsible party. We let men and women who fight in our wars end up on the streets. We let kids who endure years and years of foster care with loveless families live in alleys or abandoned buildings. So is the case with women encountering domestic violence and seniors struggling with mental health issues.
Tag Archives: veterans
A Key? Not Always the Key to Housing
With a full stomach and a thankful heart, instead, I am looking at the larger picture of homelessness in America. Whether or not you see the glass as half-full or empty, a broader view on homelessness can be confusing.
Even now, living on the streets of America, I sometimes wonder…
…is today the day that I die?
What do these actions really mean for America? Are we giving up on ending homelessness for all?
If we want to alter our society’s perception of struggling veterans—especially those who struggle on our streets—maybe we should change the definition of PTSD.
Vulnerable. It’s a word we often use to describe the clients our programs target—individuals who have serious health, mental health, and substance abuse challenges; who are frequent utilizers of hospitals and emergency rooms; and who are at high risk of dying on the streets. Veterans, seniors, families, and youth also often fall into that category. But, when we’re talking about more than 650,000 homeless people in our country, what does “vulnerable” really mean?
My father was in the Army infantry in World War II. When I was a child he never talked about his experience. For a very out-going, talkative man, his silence was peculiar. The rifles he took home from the war were hidden in our garage. The names of these weapons had a strange label: thirty-aught-six.
I could never figure out his silence to the war until I became an adult operating homeless programs in Los Angeles. For many soldiers drafted into combat, the sights, sounds, and smells of organized death were just too much.
Letter to the Orange County District Attorney Regarding the Arrest of the Suspected Homeless Serial Killer
Editor’s note: The following is a letter that Dr. Mary McLaughlin sent to Orange County, California District Attorney Tony Rackauckas regarding the recent arrest of Marine Corps Veteran Itzcoatl Ocampo, who is suspected in the murders of four homeless men.
District Attorney Rackauckas:
I am a rehabilitation psychologist. My areas of specialty are psychiatric disabilities and brain injuries. I interned on the Psychology Service at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Syracuse, New York and I work with chronically homeless people.
At first glance, he appears to be the stereotypical image of a killer of homeless Americans. He is young, male, angry, and has short hair, almost to the point of being a skinhead.
Since 1999, the National Coalition for the Homeless has documented nearly 1,200 violent crimes against homeless Americans with one in five ending up dead. Nearly 90% of the perpetrators were male, and 80% were under the age of 25 years old.