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Sad Story to Mark Veterans Day

John on November 11, 2007 at 5:11 pm

A new study has some disturbing findings about the homeless:

The observance of Veterans Day can’t hide a disturbing truth – a new study by the National Alliance to End Homelessness found that one out of every four homeless people is a veteran.

[...]

The VA reports that about half of all homeless veterans suffer from mental illness and more than two-thirds suffer from alcohol or drug abuse problems. Nearly 40 percent have both psychiatric and substance abuse disorders.

Ed Cambio is a Vietnam veteran who is getting back on his feet after years of living on the streets. Cambio returned from Vietnam when he was only 17.

“Things happen to folks that do leave an impression. If things happen that cause you to change in some way and it doesn’t get fixed somehow, it can follow you for a long time,” he said.

Cambio was plagued by bipolar disorder, alcoholism and crime – the cycle that draws in an alarmingly high number of veterans.

“I kind of gave up and said the heck with it and got caught in that cycle,” he said.

Last year, Cambio said he had an awakening after going to jail for two DWIs.

“I was standing at a corner and these people pulled up at a light, and all of a sudden the door locks on their car went down. And it almost seemed like the mother was telling the kid, if you don’t straighten up, someday you’ll be that guy,” he said.

Cambio took that mother’s advice and straightened up. He now lives in a transitional house with the help of Caritas, a non-profit that helps the homeless.

I’m glad to see that a ministry founded by believers is seeking out these people and helping them get back on their feet where possible. Still, it makes me wonder how many of the homeless I see around town are vets.

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