I have watched documentaries and have seen news stories about homeless veterans and often wondered, “How can a U.S. veteran be homeless?” I am finding out firsthand how this happens.
My dad is a Korean War veteran. He grew up working on a farm, was drafted into the U.S. Army, and headed to Korea to fight for his country. He came back and married my mom in 1955. Both my parents worked hard for many years to provide for us children. He was finally forced to retire at 75.
Both my parents collected very small pensions, along with Social Security. They barely had enough to make ends meet. In early January, after 57 years of marriage, my mother passed away. My dad’s income was cut in half. I helped him sign up for any kind of assistance he could get. Which has proven to be futile.
He does not qualify for assisted living. Waiting lists for subsidized senior housing are months, if not years, long. HRA rental assistance waiting list is years long. He doesn’t qualify for Medical Assistance because he has a very small life insurance policy that is over the “asset limit.” He could get a little help from the VA, but it involves waiting lists, changing doctors and driving miles to see a new one.
Even if he got into subsidized housing, he doesn’t make enough money to pay his bills and rent. So he will be moving in with me. I am a single mom and have worked full time since I was 18 years old. I have received assistance ONCE in my entire life while I was laid off with a very small child. That is what government assistance is all about, to help those who work for a living and fall on hard times. Not for those who are too lazy to work. The government hasn’t figured this out yet?
Yet the U.S. continues to provide for other countries and immigrants at the drop of a hat, while ignoring the homeless veterans and hungry Americans. I walked into the Social Security office a couple of years ago and was astonished at the people waiting in line. Some couldn’t even speak English. Others had children in $100 tennis shoes and playing on smartphones. Yet they are collecting Social Security? This was not the welfare office, it was Social Security. For what reason did they qualify? Have they paid their dues? I don’t know their story, but I highly doubt they have paid as much as my father has paid. I could go on and on, but why bother? It falls on deaf ears.
I am very proud of my dad and his patriotism, and am proud to be an American. But right now I am very ashamed of the U.S. government and what it has become. — Sheila Skogen, Elk River