With no help, homelessness is escapable. It’s happening around us as I speak, so get up out of your seats and see the bigger picture. I can make a change, you can make a change, everyone can make a change. Now it’s our turn! It’s time for our community to know just how forgotten our heroes are.
I speak passionately about this issue as I hope to have changed your perspective towards homeless veterans. My glimpse of hope lies in seeing the Australian Government proactively outreaching veterans in need of assistance. I want to see community employment services, health care and housing solutions as required supports, be connected to veterans at risk or experiencing homelessness. I hope to see the time when government services encounter greater stability for homelessness services along with an inspired and positive environment. Would you agree that increased giving, affordable housing investment, homelessness support services and own revenue income seems like an achievable goal?
The federal government and the states can’t agree who is responsible for funding housing. As we all expect, homelessness services have a heavy reliance on government funding. It’s shocking to see that this is considered essential to providing core services, not volunteer help or money donations. However, under this reliance, severe vulnerability can follow from government policy changes. The worst that could happen is that the world sits still and watches as many more veterans are confronted with the battle of homelessness and left without a place to call home.
“In 2009, when the last national Homeless Veterans Survey was conducted, there were 3,000 veterans without a home”. If this doesn’t seem bad enough, well “since then, up to 40,000 troops have been deployed to the Middle East in various capacities. If you put two and two together, the majority of them will become in pressing need of active service. I am warning you that a crisis is brewing.
But what is the media doing about this. The answer is not enough! Authorized efforts to address homelessness, dislocation and poverty amongst returned defence veterans only goes so far, in a sign of Australia’s fondness for symbolism over substance. In fact, the narrow portrayal of veteran personnel’s does the military a disservice. One story that captured my attention was that of Eddie. It’s alarming how quickly we assume that most homeless people are veterans. It’s sad, because it’s true. A couple of years ago VA Secretary Bob McDonald encountered a ex Special Forces member who was homeless. These were the roots of an ensuing media frenzy. A man named John Stewart re-directed the attention to what seemed more shocking, that a Special Forces veteran was homeless. Yes, this person had served in uniform, more importantly in an elite unit however, no one urged to act upon this or investigate this claim.
I now speak loud and clear to expose the unjustified actions of our government in protecting the men and women who fought for our country. You must agree that it is heartbreaking to see our veterans fight to adjust to post-war life. It’s an unsettling reality that veterans suffer from physical impairments and mental illnesses, with the most common being PTSD, but I know what you’re thinking. Don’t many of military veterans have loving families to come home to? Well, you’re wrong. For most of them it is the end of the rope after post-war life. Even their own government can’t let out a helping hand.
Today, war veterans battle in silence. It is with the upmost of concern that I speak out about the alarming rates of homelessness, and it is here that I fight for every single one of you to volunteer your time to those who need and deserve it. “Knowing that more than 116,000 Australians are homeless, is sad enough. But learning that 1 in 20 of them could be Australian Defence Force veterans, is downright upsetting”. The unsettling question is, does the responsibility lie in the hands of our Australian Federal Government?
Imagine for a moment having no home or shelter and being exposed to the elements. Imagine wondering around all day with nothing to do except searching for food and searching for a safe place to sleep every night. For most of you this is hard to visualize yourself in the positions of what life is like today for many veterans of Australia. Take a moment to imagine what it would be like if you were a forgotten hero?