Bring our Homeless Veterans “Home”
Guest Editorial by Robert Rosebrock
By Brentwood News September 2012 | September 17, 2012
One of Eight Vietnamese Refugee Tent Cities at Camp Pendleton, 1975
In 1975, after the fall of Saigon brought an end to the Vietnam War, our U.S. government welcomed more than 50,000 Vietnamese Refugees onto American soil by feeding, clothing and sheltering them.
An estimated 900 Marines and civilians had worked six days erecting more than 1,000 tents and Quonset huts at Camp Pendleton Marine Base that would provide the despondent Refugees with safe care and a hopeful future.
Most all of the Refugees arrived without any money or personal possessions and very few spoke English. Nonetheless, they were compassionately sponsored by volunteer families, churches and corporations, and eventually assimilated into our society. The vast majority became productive U.S. citizens and many became leaders in their communities.
In addition to this humanitarian gesture of good will, our government also provides shelter, beds, meals and care for hardened criminals in our local, state and federal prisons, and offers safe and comfortable living conditions for violent thug terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
On the other hand, disabled and homeless Veterans who selflessly defended our nation have been forgotten and dispossessed by our own government and forced to live alone, homeless and hungry, in back-alley squalor.
Incredulously, while the Vietnamese Refugees were welcomed into our country, America’s Veterans who had fought to defend them in their native homeland were insulted, chastised and ostracized when they returned home to their own native country.
The fact that Vietnamese refugees were given immediate attention and support decades ago while tens of thousands of our Vietnam War Veterans are still homeless and destitute is shameful beyond comprehension. By the VA’s own admission, 47% of today’s homeless Veterans are from the Vietnam War era.
As a supposed moral and compassionate society, how can we allow the exclusively deeded property at the adjacent Los Angeles National Veterans Home to be leased for a public dog park, public community park, public golf course, public parking lots, private school grounds, carnivals, entertainment, used car storage, etc., while 20,000 disabled and disadvantaged Veterans are homeless and fending for their lives on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles?
The answer is simple. We can’t!
If our government was able to provide shelter and care for 50,000 Vietnam Refugees 37 years ago and helped them to become productive individuals, then surely we can do the same today for 20,000 of our banished Veterans who have been exiled from their rightful and legal Home by the same U.S. government, while more and more Iraqi and Afghanistan War Veterans are becoming homeless.
Tragically, some would be safer fighting with their military unit in a war zone than trying to survive alone on the crime-ridden streets of Los Angeles.
It is our duty to demand that the Department of Veterans Affairs accept responsibility and take immediate action to build an emergency tented-shelter encampment for homeless Veterans on the sacred property that was deeded in their behalf nearly 125 years ago.
In addition, we must also demand that the new $275 million Cal-Vet Home, which has over 300 vacant rooms, be opened for homeless Veterans, posthaste.
This is a call to action for Brentwood residents to take a leadership role with neighboring communities to bring our homeless Veterans “Home,” so they can safely and peacefully heal from the war injuries they suffered while defending our own safety and peace.
If not us, who? If not now, when?
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