Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day.
Today, a 35-year-old military veteran shot himself in an Occupy Wall Street encampment in Burlington Vermont. I don’t know why. I just know that these young Iraqi and Afghan veterans are coming back with PTSD in bigger numbers than my fellow Vietnam veterans. Multiple employments play a part in that sad statistic.
Over in Oakland, news has come out that a second Iraq war veteran was injured in a conflict with police after Wednesday's general strike. 32-year-old Kayvan Sabeghi was taking part in protests earlier in the day but had left to go have dinner with a friend in the evening hours. He was walking home, down 14th Street near Frank Ogawa Plaza, when he encountered a protest faction and a line of police who would not let him pass, despite his being able to see his apartment from where they stood. He asked repeatedly to be allowed to pass to go home, but he ended up getting beaten by police with batons so severely that he suffered a lacerated spleen. He was hospitalized, but remains in good spirits. Meanwhile injured Marine vet Scott Olsen released a message urging everyone to remain non-violent in the face of police brutality. [ABC 7, Tribune]
Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – VA estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Only eight percent of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly one-fifth of the homeless population are veterans.
Roughly 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively. About 1.5 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
My point in sharing all this information with you is that if you want to really honor a veteran…don’t wait until Veteran’s Day. There’s many ways to help year around. Locally, here in Humboldt County we have North Coast Veterans Stand Down every year. There’s veteran organizations nationwide helping other veterans that you can support with your time or money.