Homeless American veterans

For 14 weeks, this reporter, Richard Thornton, has been on the road - often living in a tent - and writing for the Examiner. His most recent project is in the Chattahoochee National Forest where he is interviewing homeless people:

This week I talked to several "tent cities" of veterans in the national forest. I was expecting the blame to be pointed toward the Veterans Administration or Bush presidency for their homelessness. To my surprise, all of the younger veterans were homeless and penniless due to state laws and state courts. They lost their jobs, and therefore could not afford an attorney. Meanwhile judges assigned child support payments, fees and fines that drastically exceeded their incomes. When they couldn't pay the fees charged by the courts, they instantly became criminals and outlaws. The judges also took away their drivers licenses as punishment for not paying fines. How are you supposed to get a job with no car? Damn lawyers . . . they are dragging this country down into the pits.

Most of the homeless veterans from the Vietnam Era have some income, but not enough to own a home. They are often living with wives or girl friends in small rec trailers. The older vets take care of the younger vets.

This is an extension of their military experience, looking out for each other. I can't think of another social group geared for such an endeavor. It seems that, even as far back as the Civil War, veterans were something of a group apart, even where the color of their uniforms was set aside.

It's a shame that we don't take care of those who have taken care of us. Protected our Freedoms. --B&SD

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