The Real Surge

The New York Times headline gets the “surge” right:

Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 — More than 400 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have turned up homeless, and the Veterans Affairs Department and aid groups say they are bracing for a new surge in homeless veterans in the years ahead…

“We’re beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters,” said Phil Landis, chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, a residence and counseling center. “But we anticipate that it’s going to be a tsunami.”

With more women serving in combat zones, the current wars are already resulting in a higher share of homeless women as well. They have an added risk factor: roughly 40 percent of the hundreds of homeless female veterans of recent wars have said they were sexually assaulted by American soldiers while in the military, officials said.

“Sexual abuse is a risk factor for homelessness,” Pete Dougherty, the V.A.’s director of homeless programs, said.

Special traits of the current wars may contribute to homelessness, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, which can cause unstable behavior and substance abuse, and the long and repeated tours of duty, which can make the reintegration into families and work all the harder.

I can’t help but recall First Mom Barbara Bush’s comments about the Katrina refugees in the Houston Astrodome:

What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.

So I suppose, if we build really nice homeless shelters, then…

The religious community, meanwhile, ought to be making a point of not only serving the immediate needs of all homeless people, but also ought to be keeping a chronicle of the stories. The meat grinder that is this putative “war on terror” needs to be exposed to our communities and Congress. Until —

No politician dare speak of their support of our troops until this surge is resolved and the dignity of these soldiers restored.      
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