Homelessness remains a serious problem, but the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is making some progress.
There are too many people who only spare a thought for the homeless around the holiday season, but at least it’s better than not sparing a thought at all. This year’s crop of momentary-attention-to-the-homeless stories does include one bit of good news, though: the number of U.S. veterans sleeping rough on our streets has gone down. The Portland Oregonian reports:
Eric Shinseki remains optimistic.
The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs says the country remains on track to end homelessness among military veterans in 2015. He and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan told reporters Monday they’ve seen “clear and remarkable” progress in the agencies’ efforts to reduce such homelessness, while acknowledging there’s much more work to do.
Shinseki said his agency next year would triple its spending for community grants intended to prevent or reduce homelessness among veterans and their families. He said the VA will spend $300 million awarding competitive grants under the agency’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, which funds homeless beds in Portland and elsewhere.
This is good news, both in that progress has been made, and that further efforts are planned. The prevalence of veterans among America’s homeless population has always been a source of double shame: that anyone should have to suffer such privation in our country, and that so many of those should be people, mostly men, to whom the nation and the government owe a legal and moral debt of gratitude.
Sadly, neglect of veterans has been a problem with the American government since its founding. From Shays’ Rebellion to the Bonus Army, generation after generation of veterans has found themselves destitute and abandoned by the same government they had agreed to lay down their lives for. The fact that this shameful history is being reversed, even if it is one agonizing step at a time, is cause for both relief and pride in the hard work being done by Gen. Shinseki and his organization.