Yellow Bumper Magnets Fall Short on Supporting Our Troops

When the frenzy of "Supporting Ouf Troops" was at it's peak you saw these on most every car in sight. I never got one because it seemed to me it really did nothing for the troops. I considered purchasing one at a local service station but first asked " Where does the money for this go"? The station manager informed me that he did not know. My guess is someone made a quick buck on the backs of our trooops.
As the troops return from Iraq and the opportunity for real support presents itself, the yellow ribbons are disappearing. Yesterday, I learned of one disabled amputee veteran who was homeless on the the street in his wheelchair. Until a new agency publicized his plight he was receiving $200/mo. to support himself from the V.A. When the story broke, his compensation immediately increased, no doubt out of fear for bad publicity than "Support for Our Troops".
Stories like the following from the Christian Science Monitor are playing out across America.

Back from Iraq - and suddenly out on the streets

| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Social service agencies say the number of homeless vets is rising, in part because of high housing costs and gaps in pay.

Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are now showing up in the nation's homeless shelters.

While the numbers are still small, they're steadily rising, and raising alarms in both the homeless and veterans' communities. The concern is that these returning veterans - some of whom can't find jobs after leaving the military, others of whom are still struggling psychologically with the war - may be just the beginning of an influx of new veterans in need. Currently, there are 150,000 troops in Iraq and 16,000 in Afghanistan. More than 130,000 have already served and returned home.

Beyond the yellow ribbons

Both the Veterans Administration and private veterans service organizations are already stretched, providing services for veterans of previous conflicts. For instance, while an estimated 500,000 veterans were homeless at some time during 2004, the VA had the resources to tend to only 100,000 of them.

"You can have all of the yellow ribbons on cars that say 'Support Our Troops' that you want, but it's when they take off the uniform and transition back to civilian life that they need support the most," says Linda Boone, executive director of The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

So far, dozens of them, like Herold Noel, a married father of three, have found themselves sleeping on the streets, on friends' couches, or in their cars within weeks of returning home. Two years ago, Black Veterans for Social Justice (BVSJ) in the borough of Brooklyn, saw only a handful of recent returnees. Now the group is aiding more than 100 Iraq veterans, 30 of whom are homeless.

"It's horrible to put your life on the line and then come back home to nothing, that's what I came home to: nothing. I didn't know where to go or where to turn," says Mr. Noel. "I thought I was alone, but I found out there are a whole lot of other soldiers in the same situation. Now I want people to know what's really going on."

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