Robert Williams holds a photo of himself, wearing a Marine uniform.
credit: Christy Ulmet

Lately I question if I am in fact reaching others with my column. I question if anyone has changed their mindset in regards to this homeless epidemic surrounding us. Not only do we need to end homelessness, I’ve been calling for an end to the manner in which you do or do not interact with this ignored and forgotten community of people. The homeless are all too often made to feel invisible.

Have I not made it clear? No one is exempt from homelessness. I never, never, EVER anticipated it would or could happen to me. But I battled with it in Chicago during the winter season and I battled with it here in D.C. Statistically, most of us are only one missed paycheck—40 to 80 hours—away from homelessness.

If you do not have a lease in your name, technically you are already part of this invisible, ignored and forgotten segment of society. You just aren’t outside, yet!

Sadly, even as a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, I experience the un-appreciativeness of the public for the sacrifices of the military. The total obliviousness to the fact that veterans were asked for help first.

Don’t you realize the same way you look at the downtrodden—the lack of respect you have for the homeless—is the same way the government looks down on and disrespects you? Veterans Affairs and other agency’s report that they are taking care of people. But if that were true, we wouldn’t be out here downtrodden or homeless.

Those of you who follow my column, as you open your eyes, please encourage your friends and family to do so as well. Visit StreetSense.org to read previous installments: search my name or this column, “Perception or Reality.” Pay attention to the changing titles, each one carries new meaning. More than anything, give me feedback. I want to find solutions with you, the community, for the epidemic of homelessness. But I don’t even know if I’m being heard.

More people virtually take flight rather than stop and converse with you when you are homeless. Put a smile on your face; no need to frown but stop allowing the system to make you look like a clown.