“A lot of the guys who had bad discharges from the military just ended up staying here”

The Hawaii Reporter published an article about the challenges of helping Hawai’i’s homeless military population.   It is not news that a large percentage of the homeless in any given place are former military personnel.   Some of this population suffers from PTSD and/or substance abuse issues.  Here are some facts reported in the article:

On Oahu, the number (of homeless military personnel) can range from 500 or 1,200.

Retired Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Allan Kellogg, a homeless benefit counselor at Veterans Affairs, said:

“A lot of the guys who had bad discharges from the military just ended up staying here. I mean, if you’re going to be homeless, this (Hawaii) is the place to be.”

The profile of the homeless veterans is changing with more former military personnel having served in the recent wars:

While Kellogg mainly assists those veterans from Vietnam, he has seen around 30 soldiers this year who served in more recent wars.

And even military advocates are critical of the state’s draconian anti-homeless program:

Calvin Griffin, a U.S. Army Veteran and local radio talk show host, is critical of Hawaii’s 90-day plan.

“Anytime there’s an event in Hawaii, I’ve noticed that the government just rounds the homeless up, gets them out of the way. You know, because this is the state of Aloha. There’s supposed to be a sense of well being here,” said Griffin, who noted the APEC conference, which will attract world leaders, is set for November.

The problem of homelessness and houselessness (Kanaka Maoli who are native to this land, but are landless or unable to afford a house) are the products of this economic system that displaces people from their land and treats people as disposable commodities.  Criminalizing and sweeping the homeless and houseless only disperses them and exacerbates the problem.  We must also critique of the military component of this system.  The military system and the policies it executes destroys the lives of many men and women, a percentage of whom end up on the streets.   To prevent the epidemic of homeless vets, stop destroying the humanity of those who are lured into the military.

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