Letters: Helping our vets
I wonder why so many of us see the need (as Bobby Shriver so eloquently states in his Op-Ed article) and yet do nothing about it.
We owe much more to our military veterans than what is given. We, the American people, expect the military to protect us, regardless of what it costs those in the military. And when they need our help, we ignore their needs.
What is the next step to help homeless veterans? What is the next step to help the veteran who, for whatever reason, is unable to find a job? What is the next step to help the vet who haspost-traumatic stress disorderand faces more challenges than his mind can handle?
What is the next step, America?
Of all the articles I could wake up to on Memorial Day, I can’t imagine anything making me angrier than Shriver’s revelations about the failure of President Obama’s administration to take care of our chronically homeless veterans right here on our ample West L.A. Veterans Administration property.
As a faithful Obama supporter, I am appalled at his lack of moral action, especially given his campaign-trail remarks about our obligation to take care of veterans.
And, as a currently grateful recipient of VA care, I see frequently the unused buildings that could house the homeless vets on the street in the area and
As Shriver points out: “The time for words has passed. It’s time for action.”
Obama has at long last lost my support unless he makes good on his word now and focuses on our undisputed responsibility to our needy vets.
Since I started treating veterans in 1973, every presidential administration has attempted and failed to solve the problem of homeless vets.
The vast majority of homeless veterans (and for that matter, non-vets) suffer from chronic mental illness or substance dependence. Most of them have been offered treatment and shelter multiple times. All too often, however, the veteran leaves treatment.
There is a regrettable cycle of relapse and homelessness caused by the paradox that although the patient’s decision to wander away from his treatment program is clouded by his chronic mental impairment, it is the patient’s civil right to do so. Involuntary treatment is limited to emergency issues only.
Until there are legal changes in which long-term health, sobriety and stable housing are valued over the patient’s right to return to psychosis or substance dependence, no amount of goodwill, funding, treatment availability and shelter resources will resolve homelessness.
Cyril Barnert, MD
It’s immoral and criminal that the VA buildings and grounds in Westwood are not being used to house and help homeless veterans. Shriver’s Memorial Day Op-Ed article should shame the Obama administration into correcting this situation.
I’m an Obama supporter, but I won’t be donating to his reelection campaign until these facilities are made available to the veterans who need them.
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