The day I met Dale, he was in the middle of a crowded San Francisco sidewalk. But he was very much alone. He was in his wheelchair, trying to position his body upright so he could pick through the contents of a garbage can. Swarms of people, tourists and businesspeople, hurried past. They all seemed too busy to stop and notice one man’s struggle, one man’s devastating plight.
If these people knew Dale’s story, maybe they would not have hurried past so quickly. Dale spent 14 years serving our country, including two tours of Vietnam. As a result, he has serious health issues that confine him to a wheelchair. Yet, he says the only help he gets from the VA is free coffee and donuts.
The stories of homeless veterans are among the hardest to watch, if you ask me. These are men and women who were willing to wear the uniform, willing to put themselves in harms way. It must be tough to come to the realization that their country – the people and ideals that they fought for – are not half as eager to heal their pain, to have their backs. Seems there is just too much hurt and not enough money. Still, there is a lot of noise these days in Washington about ending the atrocity of veteran homelessness. It is critical that this talk become real, tangible solutions. Our veterans have waited long enough.
Today is Veteran’s Day. Today we will remember the sacrifices of our Veterans and honor their unselfish service. The day I met Dale, he was in the middle of a crowd. But he was alone, picking through a garbage can.
This Veteran’s Day, let’s remember the plight of veterans – homeless in America. And let’s resolve to do something about it.