After returning from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, Michael found himself back in America with a drug and alcohol addiction, which quickly led to job loss and then homelessness. Michael is homeless in Syracuse. I […]


After returning from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, Michael found himself back in America with a drug and alcohol addiction, which quickly led to job loss and then homelessness.

Michael is homeless in Syracuse. I met him “flying a sign” on a subzero winter day just to get a few dollars to survive. Weather report at the time of this interview was around minus 15 °F. I had to take my gloves off just for a moment to setup the camera, and the tips of my fingers burned like they were on fire for the next half hour. Michael said he had been standing there for 2 hours. Luckily, Catholic Charities is providing shelter for him at night, but the day before on the same corner, I gave socks and gloves to a man who is sleeping outside during this weather.

When I asked Michael what he wanted the world to know about being a homeless veteran he responded: ” for a person to be homeless it’s a shame, for a veteran to be homeless it’s a tragedy.”

Please watch this powerful video on veterans homelessness.

Michael is a homeless veteran in Syracuse. Click To Tweet

Special thanks to Syracuse Rescue Mission

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  • Heart of Courage

    I highly respect your service in the military. However, though I may get blasted for this, I will say that your situation is partly your own doing, and you can’t always demand people to give you special treatment just because you were in the service. I say this not to belittle you, but in hopes that you will take responsibility for yourself and better yourself. Always strive to create change for the better, by doing things that you may be scared of. Embrace your strengths, but seek to improve your weaknesses. Best wishes, and God Bless.

  • WOW! I am not going to say what I want to say because your comment got my emotions going.

    We should give people who are willing to die for the rest of us special treatment, and we must start taking care of our veterans returning from war who may be suffering from PTSD and other issues.

    That said, all of us make mistakes and all of us need help from time to time. Our responsibility has humans is to take care of our neighbors!


    If you have a drug and acohol problem that is your choice. No one forces you to buy drugs or booze. Unless drugs jump into yor body uninvited and booze enters your body uninvited you and you alone must make the effort to physically introduce drugs and booze into your body. Yes you are a Veteran and I respect your service but, if you choose to do drugs and be a booze hound that is a stupid choice on your part that has absolutely NOTHING to do with your military service.
    Your bad choices are neither my fault or my responsibility. Stop getting high blaming everyone and everything else and start rebuilding your life. There are PTSD programs and other options uplifting open to Vet’s who honestly want to help themselves. You made choices to do drugs and end up in societies gutter now you want everyone to feel sorry for you. I have 13 disabilities & autism and I don’t want or need you or anyone else to feel sorry for me.
    Took me 41 years to get it right but I pulled myself up from the gutter with God’s help you can do the same. Or you can continue to cry and whine about how unfair life is but like doing drugs and drinking its all about you making YOUR CHOICE SIR!

  • a2phil

    As it says in the Bible (in case you’ve actually read it-most of the Bible thumpers I’ve come across haven’t): “Judge not, lest ye be judged”….Or my favorite Native American saying: “Do not criticize your neighbor until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins”…

    You sound just as judgmental as the people you’ve critised (in other posts here) at the shelters!!!!

  • a2phil

    Hmmmm….now let’s see….if YOU were jobless and homeless in freezing weather and people (INCLUDING the V.A) weren’t doing [email protected]#$%^&* for you, wouldn’t you (at least eventually) turn to drugs and/or alcohol????

    The ONLY way I can see it was a ” situation partly of his own doing”, is that he got SUCKERED into fighting a war for the 1%!!!!!! And I say that of ALL the wars the U.$ has ever fought!!!! They only benefited the 1%!!!!!!

  • VG IC

    I think that it’s very sad that veterans are homeless and living on the streets. It’s good that you’re wanting to give back to the community when you’re able to get money and a job. Homelessness is a serious issue and I believe that it is important that we as Americans help to lower the rate of homelessness.

  • BF LT

    First we would like to thank you for risking your life protecting ours. We’re happy you’re now sober and trying to make a better life for yourself. Your story is an inspiration for us to not make excuses. It also puts in perspective how lucky we are for everything we have. Thank you for your service Michael, and best wishes to make your life better.

  • RM HS

    Your story really is deep, it’s a good thing you managed to get out of drugs and alcohol. It is depressing to see a veteran on the streets struggling, but you are a man with a plan. You adapt to survive even in sub zero temperatures, you make sure you know where to go, get the work done, and rest for the next day to come. My dad was a military veteran for twenty years (in and out), he didn’t have it this bad but he still would not be hired by anyone, eventually he finally found work and we’re now stable. I hope someday you find home and that you can give back the way you want to.

  • AR&HB

    Dear Michael,
    I am happy that you have been one year sober and are working to better yourself . I admire that you want to give back to others. I can imagine how hard things must have been and still are but you have yet to give up. I hope things work out with getting an apartment. STAY STRONG!!

  • Timothy

    First of all Idiot werewolf, He’s homeless. regardless of how this has happened, this forum is for information and education, not blame. You’re part of the problem with this situation. You want to place blame. Check yourself. You sound ignorant.

  • Ambrose Onyekwere

    Michael, please ask the charity that is helping you about ex-security offices organisation that help officers with mental, alcohol or drug issues – you get free treatment and access back to another job. Ex-security officer sleeping rough on the street, is this USA! ”Street rough sleepers in rich/civilized society then what is the meaning of civilized society?” – Comment from a book: Homelessness by Ambrose Onyekwere.

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