Community Comes Together One day I was talking to a friend of mine in the…
Sun doesn’t shine on all homeless veterans alike
Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation! It may come as no surprise that the streets of south Florida are “home” to many homeless veterans. They are fighting the most difficult war of their lives. According to the Florida Dept. of Veteran Affairs, Florida has earned a reputation as one of the “most veteran-friendly states,” But, it seems all veterans are not created equal and the sunshine state has not been so “sunny” for all of our heroes… our valiant homeless veterans.
Homeless Veterans – The Struggle is Real
According to research, almost half of homeless veterans are experiencing debilitating circumstances. Such as mental illness and post-traumatic stress, alcohol and/or drug addictions, or all the above. Can you imagine the daily terror these homeless veterans are faced with? Above all, the ones suffering from PTSD. The traumatic flashbacks from a loud thunderstorm, a simple car horn, or cars racing down the street. The humiliation of being invisible to most and the hopelessness must cut deep. Most of us could not even fathom spending one night or even a few short hours in the darkness of the streets. Time would feel like it was standing still.
Picture this… Some veterans are surrounded by medals of honor, driving nice cars, and sleep soundly in their tempurpedic beds. Meanwhile, others are encased by cardboard boxes, sleeping on cement slabs, and driving shopping carts around town. The only “metal” they have may be that of a prosthetic limb lost at war or a few loose coins in a rusty Folgers can. It just doesn’t seem fair. In addition, they fought for our freedom, only to become imprisoned and held captive by their daily reality of being homeless.
Treating our homeless veterans with Showering Love
Journal excerpts through the eyes of Kristi Messer, MPH, MSW, LCSW
“In some ways, envisioning a life with a bed is easier to imagine than a life without love, companionship, and uncertainty. Homelessness is lonely. Homelessness is scary. It was unbelievably difficult to simultaneously feel scared and lonely as I slept outside faced with the elements of the night. Most importantly, one should have to experience fear alone.
The Showering Love sleep-out brought back aching memories of vulnerability, fear, and uncertainty. As a result, I just wanted the night to end.The sounds of the critters around me were unsettling……could they be rats? I could feel the rain knock repeatedly against my feet, see the wind toss my belongings, hear the merciless rumble of the thunder, and experience the unrelenting rain. My thoughts wandered, and at times, I began to plan my escape home. I was then reminded of the painful truth of individuals experiencing homelessness…there is no home to escape to.
I’ll always remember the friends I met that night, the friends without a home, one of many homeless veterans who served our country. He now stands before me as a skinny gentleman with wobbly knees, crystal blue eyes, and shaggy chestnut hair; the man who ate grass because he was hungry. As he sat slumped in a chair around the fire, he shared stories of fond childhood memories of Christmas and the football jersey he received as a gift from his father.
Most importantly, I was reminded that we are all people, and we all need love, understanding, and compassion. We are more alike than different and we should to be kind to one another. In short, I wish that all people had the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be homeless, lonely, fearful, and to have no escape. Certainly experiences like these would prompt people to action, to feel compassion, to be part of the solution.”
Grace to the Rescue
However, not every aspect is grim. There are many wonderful people working TOGETHER, on the front-lines, helping fight homelessness.
So, with Veteran’s day upon us on Wednesday, November 11th, kindly consider making a donation in their honor. For those who are fighting and have fought for our country, those we have lost, and homeless veterans that are battling their own war on the streets.
In short, “It takes a village!” We feel truly blessed to have such an amazing team of volunteers and wonderful community support!
We genuinely appreciate our sponsors and those that have donated and/or volunteered their time. Your kindness and support for homeless veterans and all those experiencing homelessness, enables us to “shower” them with love, help restore their dignity, and afford them the opportunity of starting their tomorrow off a little brighter than today <3