Peace and Freedom Party
Socialist Party USA
November 12, 2007
In Fresno, California, city workers were wrapping up final preparations for the big Veteran’s Day celebrations and many of those arriving early to celebrate the day were veterans from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and both Iraq Wars and Afghanistan. Many of the veterans stood along the sidewalk proudly wearing there brushed off military uniforms.
Only a few blocks away there were hundreds of homeless people, including veterans that were roaming the streets with their possessions in a shopping carts or hauling their few possessions in plastic bags being carried on their backs.
At the 99 Freeway and Fresno Street off ramp, stood a veteran collecting donations from drivers waiting for the traffic light, holding a small sign that read, “Veteran needs food and shelter, please help.” In his face one could see the scars of war and the scars from living on the streets.
A recent report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness notes that veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States; the N.A.E.H. also estimates that in 2006 there were 495,400 veterans homeless at some time during that year.
Many veterans returning to the U.S. from Afghanistan and the Iraq War are finding it difficult to find jobs; they are also receiving little or no support with food, clothing or shelter. Thousands of veterans are also returning home in need of medical and psychological assistance.
In many situations, the hardships of many veterans are extended to entire families. Some veterans are living on the streets, sometimes with friends and relatives; sometimes with their mate and children. This national crisis most often creates financial challenges for cities, counties, states and local community groups attempting to offer some limited assistance.
Presently the VA is spending approximately $2 billion on homeless programs and health care cost for homeless veterans; however this amount falls extremely short of addressing the critical needs of veterans nationwide. It is also important to note that as many as 744,000 Americans are homeless on the streets and more than a million Americans are living without a permanent home.
The U.S. government cannot wait another 10 years to address this growing crisis. Homelessness is among the most rapidly developing crisis that is happening to working class people nationwide.
Over the next 10 years, Congress must include an additional $10 billion annually in the federal budget to offer programs to assist veterans with food, clothing, shelter, employment and medical assistance; surely our veterans deserve more. Funding would also include administrative cost, providing employment opportunities for veterans; all employees receiving equal pay and equal benefits.
Congress should also include an additional $35 billion in the annual budget, over the next 10 years, to assist others in need of food, shelter, clothing and medical assistance. These programs, for veterans, the homeless and needy, should function together to provide assistance for any individual or families needing help.
An additional $45 billion in the national budget, dedicated to assisting U.S. veterans and homeless people, is only a small amount compared to the $100’s of billions that the Democrats and Republicans are spending on the Iraq War to protect the interest of U.S. and European capitalists.
Socialist Party USA and Peace and Freedom Party have been sharply critical of the Democrats and Republicans, due to their failure to make ending homelessness a national priority. As a result of this failure, the nation’s homeless population may experience sharp increases within the next two years due to the recession and inflation. Federal assistance is now imperative.
For more than three decades Socialist Party USA and Peace and Freedom Party have been committed to socialism, democracy, ending homelessness, abolishing vagrancy laws and providing decent affordable housing for all.
For more information search the Web for: Stewart A. Alexander; The Plight of American Veterans; Los Angeles: city of the stars becomes U.S. homeless capital.
Stewart A. Alexander