A homeless veteran on the streets.
credit: Vera Yu and David Li/ Flickr

Greetings my cherished and most appreciated readers. First and foremost, I would like to thank all who were in attendance at the Street Sense Annual Fall Gala held October 1 at the historic mansion on 15th Street, NW. My thanks and appreciation (and that of my fellow vendors and Street Sense staff) is also extended to everyone for all your generous contributions and support. Anyone who missed it needs to certainly ensure you are in attendance for the next year’s event.

My heart is still continuously saddened by what I consistently see and hear in regards to the language, treatment and acknowledgement (or lack of acknowledgement) of the impoverished.

If you don’t want to acknowledge the homeless or the homeless epidemic, at least acknowledge your fears. What are they and why do you allow them to cause you to treat the indigent community the way you do? I, as an artist/vendor with Street Sense am first and foremost a spiritual man of God. I am also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

Though no longer homeless, I can empathize. Not just due to my personal experience, but because I continue to be subjected to the same disrespect and inhumane treatment disproportionately reserved for the homeless or impoverished community.

All too often people walk by me as though I do not exist. All too often, although I politely greet individuals, they don’t speak back. All too often, though my lips are moving people pretend they don’t see or hear me. All too often I am told to get a job, referred to by some as “just over broke.”

By 10:00 a.m., a Marine has done more work than an average worker does all week long. We veterans are not lazy people, nor are we afraid to face reality. Are you?

Veterans Affairs and the rest of the government are playing on your intelligence if they make you believe everything is fine. The reality is this homeless epidemic can impact anyone at any time. Most of you reading this could not endure what these people (yes, people) you ignore on a daily basis endure. What is reality to you?

When you and our society needed us, we dropped everything, answered the call, no excuses at all. We left houses, jobs, families, even college to fight and sacrifice for the freedom and security you are now afforded. Yet most passersby appear oblivious to this fact. They just stare when I ask for help.

Think about how we responded to you when we were needed and think about how you respond to us now when we need a little help. I ask you: where would you be today without the sacrifices of veterans?

We recently celebrated Columbus Day. Far be it from me to even remotely comprehend how someone can discover a place which is already occupied. Where’s the appreciation and celebration for individual veterans who actually did something and are continuing to do something, never requesting, receiving or deceiving.

What do we get for this? To be among the majority of the homeless community in need of comparable healthcare, affordable housing, employment, etc. I believe in you readers. Let’s wake up and stand for something as opposed to continually falling for anything.