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Vets can’t get a break. They come home from Iraq, and we stick them in sub-par medical facilities. Then, we ignore their emotional needs. And sometimes, rarely but occasionally, they go crazy.
That right there seems to be a fairly accurate summary of coverage of suffering returning soldiers. In the last year, the media and the entertainment world has jumped on this topic.
Dana Priest and Anne Hull have led the charge with their spotlight on Walter Reed. (Priest has a story out today about soldier suicides.) James Gandolfini produced his “Alive Day Memories” documentary featuring wounded Iraq War soldiers. And injured ABC anchor Bob Woodruff completed a compelling series of reports on soldiers with traumatic brain injuries and their inadequate medical care. It’s good stuff. But, it’s also trendy.
But, here’s one type of vet story (from a press release from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and U.S. Vets) that’s not circulating these days:
Formerly Homeless DC Veterans About to Lose Housing
“Fifty-one formerly homeless veterans who live at Ignatia House on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) in Northwest Washington must find new homes by the end of next month to make way for a $2 billion redevelopment effort on the grounds of the current housing site. The men and women of Ignatia House, some of whom have been living at the House for years while seeking employment and permanent housing, receive important health care services from the VA Medical Center which is located across the street.”
Most of the vets living at Ignatia are from the Vietnam War and the Korean War, and the average age of a resident is 57. The oldest resident is in his 70s, says U.S. Vets spokesperson Stephanie Buckley. The press release goes on to say that the “although the AFRH redevelopment plan includes space for a 100-bed facility for homeless veterans, it is unlikely that the facility can be planned, constructed and opened for many years.”