Thursday, September 04, 2003

What happens when we slip into bureaucratic spreadsheet think?

In a discussion of Bush's face concern and actual hard-hearted disregard of soldiers' well-being and suffering, and painfully conscious of how poverty is a slippery slope *3 weeks to homelessness, and counting ... gawd I hate this!* I happened to quip "gadd, I can just imagine ... a vet, PTSD and maybe physically disabled, homeless, female ..." Well, someone pointed me to
Battle continues for veteran home from war
by David Abel, Globe Staff, 8/21/2003

"Three months ago, Vannessa Turner was in charge of a small unit, drove a 5-ton truck through ambushes, and wherever she went in Iraq, the Army sergeant held her M-16 at the ready.

The single mom's war ended in May, when she collapsed in 130-degree heat, fell into a coma, and nearly died of heart failure.

Now, after more than a month recovering in Germany and Washington, D.C., the muscular Roxbury native spends her days riding city buses to ward off boredom, roaming area malls looking at things she can't afford, and brooding over how she and her 15-year-old daughter are suddenly homeless, sleeping on friends' couches and considering moving into a shelter.

''I almost lost my life in Iraq -- and I can't get a place to live?'' said Turner, 41, who Army officials say is the first known homeless veteran of the war in Iraq. ''Yeah, I'm a little angry. Right now, not having a home for my daughter is the greatest burden in my life.''

Though Army officials said they're trying to help, Turner, still wearing a leg brace and limping from nerve damage in her right leg, blames the service for not doing more.

When she went to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in West Roxbury after coming home last month, officials there told her she had to wait until mid-October to see a doctor. When she asked the Army to ship her possessions from her unit's base in Germany, where she lived with her daughter for more than a year, they told her she had to fly back at her own expense to get them herself. And when she sought help to secure a veterans' loan for a house in Boston, she said mortgage brokers told her her only real option was to move to Springfield or Worcester.

The Army acknowledges ''mistakes were made.''

''The Army can be a bureaucracy, but there are people in the bureaucracy who want to help,'' said Major Steve Stover, an Army spokesman. ''I don't think it's acceptable for anyone to be homeless, and I believe most people in the Army want everyone to take care of each other.''

Unfortunately, Turner is unlikely to be the last soldier serving in Iraq to return without a home.

Although veterans make up just 9 percent of the US population, they account for about 23 percent of the nation's homeless, according to the Washington-based National Coalition of Homeless Veterans. In a given year, of the 2.5 million people who become homeless in the United States, about 550,000 are vets, many of whom served in Vietnam and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder."

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