Over a third of all San Diego homeless are vets

by on August 27, 2010 · 5 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Homelessness, San Diego, Veterans


Homeless veterans at San Diego's Stand Down 2009.

by Dylan Mann / Voice of San Diego / Originally posted August 25, 2010

You see them in the medians at intersections and at the bottom of freeway off-ramps. Suntanned and weary in camouflage pants, they hold magic-markered signs announcing: “HOMELESS VET — ANYTHING HELPS — GOD BLESS.” And you feel empathy for them, don’t you? No matter what you think of our nation’s military campaigns, it’s undeniable that here before you is a person that once served our country, but now he sleeps outside and isn’t sure when he’ll eat next.

Because of good weather and a high cost of living, San Diego has a lot of homeless people. There are 8,500 homeless people in the county and 35 percent of them (3,000) are veterans. The relatively high proportion of veterans among San Diego’s homeless is probably due to our proximity to military bases.

Nationwide, 20-25 percent of the homeless are veterans. As a group, we know these are high school graduates with significant training, who once lived disciplined lives that included regular paychecks. So, why are so many vets on America’s streets?

For the remainder of this article, please go here.

Go here for a post by OB Rag blogger Lane Tobias on homeless vets.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

tj August 27, 2010 at 10:37 am

Good point – it’s a crying shame.


A recently passed neighbor & WWII d-Day vet – NEVER forgot, or got over, the atrocities of war. Kill &/or be killed – what a thing to teach. What a way to live ….



john August 27, 2010 at 12:59 pm

One aspect of this is that most of us join the military right after high school. You leave your hometown for four or more years and you either don’t return there at all or if you do you lose many relationships with people you knew that become for most people the support structure that they rely upon when hard luck comes upon them.
Those who remain in the military for extended periods not only lose that support structure in the place they originate from, they culture of the military itself, changing duty stations often, precludes forming new ones as time goes on. While I made some good friends in the Navy, they went their way and I went mine.
I would speculate an even bigger factor in homelessness for middle aged males is the grounding and responsibilities of marriage and family. When you are raising children there is an inherent duty as provider, and as they reach the point where they leave the nest and have children of their own, most men are hitting that age where our bodies are wearing out and our hormone driven desires have faded. If the only mouth to feed is your own and you don’t have the hope and inspiration of your children and theirs running about, I think it’s easy to fall into a rut of malaise about where you’re going in life until your role of piloting a shopping cart is chosen for you.
Substance abuse compounds the issue, the Navy I was in practically made alcohol a required piece of equipment, though I understand they’ve toned it down in recent years.
It used to be all you had to do to avoid homelessness was to not **** up bigtime, today’s economy leaves the chances that even if you do everything right you may end up out there.


Seth August 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Thanks, john. Good points. It’s pretty shameful the way that many veterans are forgotten and neglected after their service, especially for those who saw combat.


Diane5150 August 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Many factors are at work here. I am a veteran, I was homeless, and I still deal with PTSD. The paranoia that a veteran deals with is life altering. Even though I have a stable life at this time, I still experience paralyzing fear, I look over my shoulder making sure I’m not being stalked, and I know my stability is a fragile thing, like a glass ornament. Combine paranoia with a distrust of all authority and I felt a need to be totally alone to feel safe. Needing to be alone, and out of touch is not the same as wanting to be alone. One is a compulsion the other is a desire. The street offers an annonimity that became a safety net. I took to the streets to die. Funny thing, while waiting to die, I chose to live. Each individual has to make that choice for himself.


Goatskull August 30, 2010 at 11:13 am

An article at SignOnSanDiego

A little off topic but I think appropriate to this subject. This is an article from the wonderful UT last month about returning vets entering the world of University. Here is a quite form the very first paragraph.
“It hasn’t always been easy for Chris Mandia, a former Camp Pendleton Marine turned film student, to adjust to college life. When he said he was a “vet,” people thought he cared for animals. When a young woman asked him if he shot any children, he told her it was easy, you just aim low.
She didn’t get the joke.”
It makes me wonder how such a horrible and inappropriate question affects battle weary vets. The reasons why so many vets wind up homeless are too numerous to list, but hearing questions like this sure doesn’t help returning vets trying to get re-acclimated back into civilian life.


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