For nearly 10 years, I’ve been ministering to the homeless people throughout the Dallas area, primarily through leading Staff devotions and by sharing a message of hope through our monthly outreach at a local shelter. The Lord has blessed me through a number of great relationships developed over the years ministering to the men staying at Union Gospel Mission Dallas. There are every day heroes working with the homeless population trying to help them move beyond their present situation into a new reality.
As I mentioned in my Wednesday post, this week our nation celebrated Veterans Day, honoring all the men and women who served in the military past and present. If you’ve read my blog, The Devotional Guy™, for any length of time you also know that I have a heart for the homeless, specifically those in and around my hometown of Richardson.
Dallas has about 10,000 homeless people on any given day. Approximately 2500 homeless people have access and utilize the assistance provided to them by local shelters throughout the area. Over the past 12 months, I am seeing an increase in homeless people in the suburban areas surrounding Dallas as I make my chaplain worksite visits.
You may recall that in a recent post I mentioned how disheartened I was when I read a comment by someone in my community disparaging the homeless people they were seeing at an increasing rate panhandling at interesections and wandering around other places street people populate.
The other day, I read a social media post from someone living in a nearby neighborhood back home who is tired of seeing the homeless vagrants near our suburban oasis. The “neighbor” complained about these drug addicted, alcohol ailed lowlifes infesting her view.The Devotional Guy™
October 23, 2020
According to the Central Texas organization Green Doors, approximately 17% of the homeless population in our area is made up of military veterans. These veterans served in a number of different military campaigns including the Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. The majority of homeless veterans are single males from poor, disadvantaged communities. Studies show that homeless veterans tend to experience homelessness longer than their non-veteran homeless counterparts.
Here are some other facts regarding veteran homelessness compiled by Green Doors:
- Veterans between the ages of 18 and 30 are twice as likely as adults in the general population to be homeless.
- The risk of homelessness increases significantly among young veterans who are poor.
- About 53% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities, compared to 41% of homeless non-veterans.
- Roughly 56% of all homeless veterans are African-American or Hispanic, while only accounting for 12.8% and 15.4% of the U.S. population respectively.
- Over half of homeless veterans suffer from some form of mental illness.
- Two-thirds suffer from substance abuse problems.
- A growing number are struggling with both mental illness and a substance abuse problem.
Back in 2010, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) estimated there were 76,000 homeless veterans sleeping on American streets on any given night. While this is shocking, there is some good news to report. The 2019 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count—a “snapshot” of homelessness on a given night in America—revealed that homelessness among veterans has decreased almost 50 percent since 2010. This tells us that with concerted effort, homelessness is something that we can impact signficantly, and possibly even end if we are willing to do the hard work.
The U.S. Departement of Veterans Affairs offers a number of resources to military veterans facing potential homelessness or currently experiencing homelessness. No one should be homeless, especially not someone who served this country to defend our freedom.
What are the main causes that lead to veteran homelessness? I am glad you asked.
According to Green Doors, military veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless compared to other Americans due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dreadful living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
Along with a nmber of organizations, the Department of Veterans Affairs remains committed to ending homelessness among veterans. Their threefold focus includes:
- Conducting coordinated outreach to proactively seek out veterans in need of assistance.
- Connecting homeless and at-risk Veterans with housing solutions, health care, community employment services and other required supports.
- Collaborating with federal, state and local agencies; employers; housing providers, faith-based and community nonprofits; and others to expand employment and affordable housing options for Veterans exiting homelessness.
(U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs )
No veteran should be homeless.
- What is the image that comes to your mind when you think of homeless people?
- Have you ever experienced homelessness?
- Do you know a veteran who is currently suffering from homelessness?
- Do you help the homeless people in your community? How?
- What are some ways to help our homeless neighbors, including our homeless veterans?
Father God, we thank You for those military men and women who served America in the past and for those who serve her in the present. While it is not perfect, we recognize that we live in a great nation. Forgive us for neglecting those who sacrificed so much in order for us to enjoy our freedoms. Help us help them. Have mercy on us as we hope to show love and grace to those in need in the days to come. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thanks for reading this post. May the Lord bless you and keep you and shine His favor on you and those you love. Nothing happens if you don’t take action.
The Devotional Guy™
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I believe that in order to experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, God has made this gift available to all who ask.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”