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When A Vet Is Left Homeless

By jimstaro - Posted on 21 April 2011

Dishonored Americans: That's All of Us When A Vet Is Left Homeless

April 20, 2011 - L. Tammy Duckworth came to Hartford on Monday and told a sad story.

Duckworth was a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in 2004 when she lost both legs and the partial use of one arm in combat. Now, she's assistant secretary of veterans affairs in D.C., and recently, she was in Vermont talking to a man who was staying with his family at a homeless shelter.

That's sad enough, but the man was excited. A member of the Vermont National Guard, he was getting ready to deploy, and his family had received permission to stay in the shelter for the duration of his tour overseas.

Imagine. Excitement that your family could stay in a homeless shelter.

"We are all dishonored when a veteran sleeps on the same street he or she defended," Duckworth said.

And it's not just Vermont. Connecticut enjoys a reputation for taking care of its veterans, but last month an outreach team pulled an 82-year-old veteran off the streets in Branford. Every week, similar groups find veterans living under the bridges in Hartford, Stamford and New Haven. Most are eligible for benefits, but for all kinds of reasons, they don't apply.

The state Department of Veterans Affairs counts 1,200 homeless vets in the state. Nationwide, a study from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Veterans Administration said there were 76,000 veterans on the streets on any given night in 2010. The numbers have been dropping in the past few years, in part because of a federal plan aimed at ending homelessness among veterans within five years.

But we can always do better with this uniquely vulnerable population. {continued}


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