Sleeping outside. Veterans and Homelessness

Sleeping outside. Veterans and Homelessness November 11, 2014

Veterans and Homelessness
A scraggly beard covered his face. His brown eyes gleamed with a thousand sentiments and thoughts. He smiled at the children who walked past him. A Church bus pulled up south of trinity on Peachtree Street. 15 Korean Presbyterians ministers hit the pavement with tables, an audio system, and hot chili. The young worship leader grabbed his guitar and did a mike check. Jamie sat up from his reclined position against the small Maple tree that adorned the concrete. He said, “Church is here. Let’s go listen to their sermon and get something to eat.” Jamie is a war veteran. He has some mental health issues. I have never seen him drink but his eyes are always glassy and tearful. Jamie doesn’t talk much about the war. Jamie might be 50. I can’t really tell. He might be 40. Maybe 60. He is not the only veteran on the streets in Atlanta.

I care about Veterans who are homeless. Despite my leftist leanings, I don’t identify with a political party in America. We live in an imperfect country, and we have committed a lot of heinous acts in the world. While our country isn’t amazing, it’s one of the best human government forms the world has seen. As Tony Campolo often says “America is Babylon, but she’s the Best Babylon that’s existed.” http://tonycampolo.org/tag/babylon/
We have some of our freedoms- even the freedom to dissent- because of our veterans. True, some of our wars were fueled by ideologies or economic concerns, but these brave men and women have sacrificed much. Veterans experiencing homelessness is not a new phenomenon. It’s been happening for a long time. The Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have done their best to eliminate veteran homelessness in America. Yet, the problem remains.
When we talk about veterans and homelessness, the causations of the problem are vast in scope. PTSD, family breakdown, equal access to resources, and assimilation issues are all to blame.
HOW MANY Veterans are homeless?
“Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night” http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/.
We have seen a definite decrease in the number of veterans experiencing homelessness. Five years ago almost 1/3 of the chronic homeless population was veterans. Currently about ¼ of Chronic homeless people in America are Veterans.

But there is still work to be done.
What does this mean for You and your community? Are we not the vehicle for world transformation? Does the Church/Temple/ Synagogue/Mosque care about veterans? Does your community care about homelessness?
Does your religion, faith, or faith journey stir you to care about the poor?
If your faith doesn’t t keep you up at night thinking about the poor, it might just be a show.

Christians If your faith doesn’t t keep you up at night thinking about the poor, it might just be a show. It’s what Bonhoeffer called “Cheap Grace.” Cheap grace allows me to feel ok about my afterlife and not give a darn about This Life. We need prophets and agents of change to stir us up. To wake us up from our anathema state, and slumber. If Christians are following Christ, they will be ripped up over the poor, the hungry, the forgotten, and the marginalized. It’s not a personal salvation or a personal religion- If Christianity doesn’t love the world enough to help transform the world into the Kingdom of a God, the eschatological promise of Christ, than its all crap. Rugged individualism, consumerism, and Max Weber Capitalism has ruined the communal- world transforming gospel, in exchange for personal security and easy sleeping. Wake us up, Holy Spirit. Wake us up to the hurting in our world.

Practical Ways your community can become involved in assisting the fight for homeless vets:

  • Contact United Way (211) to find out about agencies in your neighborhood that are working with homeless veterans.
  • Have your children do a project on homeless veterans.
  • Think about having a sock drive for a local agency.
  • Contact a local agency and see what you can do to assist.
  • Think about having a speaker come and share about homelessness with your congregation.
  • November is Hunger and Homelessness awareness month. What is your church/group doing about it?

Some friends of mine, who are doing something about homelessness in America:
Atlanta: Pastor Joe McCutchen, Safe House  https://www.facebook.com/SafeHouseOutreach
Atlanta: The Reverend Mary Wetzel, Church of the Common Ground https://commonground.episcopalatlanta.org/Content/Church_of_the_Common_Ground.asp
Pennsylvania: Cranford Coulter, The Kings Jubilee http://www.thekingsjubilee.org/
Raleigh: Hugh Hollowell, Love Wins http://www.lovewinsministries.org/
Minneapolis: Mark Van Steenwyk, The Mennonite Worker http://www.mennoniteworker.com/
Arkansas: Aaron Reddin The Van, One Inc. https://www.facebook.com/ItsTheVan
Craig M. Watts, Royal Palm Christian Church ;
https://www.facebook.com/RoyalPalmChristianChurch

There are so many more of my friends who are working to show love in our world.
And of course, since I work in Atlanta at the Gateway Center- here’s our link. www.gatewayctr.org

 

For more information:

http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/the-state-of-homelessness-2014

 

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