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Helping Homeless Veterans One Hero At A Time

The over 670 veterans who attended the event received new shoes and other aid.

The over 670 veterans who attended the event received new shoes and other aid.

As a federal employee for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, it is part of my job to know the many faces of hunger. People in need can come from all backgrounds, ages, locations, and walks of life. They are children. They are senior citizens. They are even those who are newly unemployed during our nation’s economic downturn. I knew all of this. But what caught me off guard was the fact that many are also our nation’s veterans.

Being a veteran myself, and living in the Dallas area, I have spent a fair share of time at the North Texas Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Dallas for non-combative injuries suffered while on active duty. I developed working relationships with the staff there and accepted an invitation to represent my agency at a Homeless Stand Down event. I heard of such outreach, but being present was something totally different and an eye-opener.

I learned that an estimated 15 percent of our nation’s homeless are veterans. While I manned a table with stacks of pamphlets about FNS’s 15 nutrition assistance programs, almost 700 homeless veterans passed by. Some asked for information. Others spoke to me about how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could help them purchase food month to month. More than a few just wanted someone to listen to their experiences—which I did happily.

At the Veteran Association North Texas Homeless Veteran Stand Down event veterans in need from around the Dallas area lined up to receive aid in the form of clothing, medical care, dental care and much more at the event. Over 15 percent of the homeless persons in America are veterans.

At the Veteran Association North Texas Homeless Veteran Stand Down event veterans in need from around the Dallas area lined up to receive aid in the form of clothing, medical care, dental care and much more at the event. Over 15 percent of the homeless persons in America are veterans.

It broke my heart to see so many American heroes barely making it day-to-day, living on the streets or in shelters. But the opportunity to do outreach like this brightened my spirits. It is why I continue to serve my country in a federal capacity. I am beyond proud that I aided in this event. Veterans received clothing, shoes, medical and dental care, vaccinations, housing and employment information and much, much more. More importantly, they also got a hot meal.

Just like FNS has a mission to end hunger, the Veterans Administration has set a goal of ending homelessness among veterans. I have no doubt that we can accomplish both missions if we all work together to make it happen. And USDA’s nutrition assistance programs are an integral part of fighting hunger in communities across the country, including the veterans with whom I share a special bond.

2 Responses to “Helping Homeless Veterans One Hero At A Time”

  1. Maria Vogel-Short says:

    The Brave who served our country should never go hungry…as they have served us, we should serve them!

  2. Dr. J says:

    Our brokenhearted Americans come from every path of Life, but what I always am bothered with is whenever I am confronted with the completely unacceptable reality that 15 out of 100 homeless Americans are Veterans of the Armed Services, there is more than just a passing paradox whenever I recall Psalms: in one chapter, it reads, “Though I walk through the shadow of the Valley of Death, Thou art with me….”

    Always.

    But we Americans who KNOW that so many of our Veterans homeless – and do not one damn thing about it – are ourselves worse than any Army, Marine, Air Force or Naval deserter. THEY’VE done the truly difficult part…even earned the heartfelt titles of ‘Heroes’ in the story scripted upon our hearts … and souls. Is it too much to ask for those of us whom do impossibly little for them to describe OURSELVES? We become, in an instant, the opposite of these men and women, these heroes many. We ourselves become apathetic zeros, fully capable of being unfeeling, unaware, un-everything.

    Ask any Armed Service member what they think of US when we go about not giving a damn and they’ll tell you in unimaginably polite fashion is that ‘it hurts’. It hurts the ACTIVE DUTY members to KNOW that the UN-aware,the UN-sympathetic, the UN-caring are too numerous to count. I wonder out loud, “What will it take for ALL of us to wake the hell up?!?”

    A full scale invasion of the United States of America just might do it. Folks around these parts (called the entire North American continent) truly abhor such alarmist talks. We have unsecured borders and people willing to risk the lives of even small children in order to gain access to Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California. People who fail to respect those fellow country men and women who now are ex-patriates of the same place they themselves are trying to be. One is legal, the other is very illegal. You do the math.

    Take terrorists armed with the poor man’s atom bomb. Anthrax. VX nerve gas. Sarin and other nightmares packed into tiny packages and once airborne and forced through the tiniest of openings in becoming an aerosol. When total chaos happens (and the experts so-called say its not a matter of ‘IF”), will we revert back to being unfeeling and uncaring again??

    Chances are, with so much death around and about, it’ll be these same homeless men and women who served in the Armed Services who might arrive on the scene, be the 1st Responders in such-and-such a place. Believe me you, 1st Responders are becoming harder and harder to find. THings like lung cancers and mesotheliomas are the product of huge buildings collapsing and falling downward onto the tight confines of urban landscapes, and the dust is highly … fill in the blank.

    _____ _____ ______.

    I’ll let you use your imagination.

    But hey! Didn’t I just give you a strange scenario just before?!? A HOMELESS veteran rushing to the scene, knowing full well s/he might not be alive in a matter of weeks/months due to the possibility that something evil this way has arrived?

    And us? Us un-feeling un-fillintheblanks staring at the CNN News screen, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the scene of mayhem, murder and something worse.

    The something worse is some of us. What is worse is a homeless vet, sleeping on the ground night after night, only to do so after the soup kitchen gives him or her what s/he needed food-wise earlier. And you and I – asleep in the softness of blankets and pillows, wondering if schools and jobs will still be there tomorrow…

    End hunger.

    Enable human decency.

    It is worth fighting for, for what is coming our way – not IF but WHEN – will require much more than contributions of our donations of canned beets at the church food drives…

    Semper Fi,

    Dr. James Murphy

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