Want to honor vets this Memorial Day? Help end veterans' homelessness

Chris Fee, English prof. and department chair at Gettysburg College, authored a piece on the homeless veterans that appeared in the Patriot-News on May 25. Fee often writes about issues related to poverty and homelessness. His seminar for first-year students on The Literature of Homeless includes a substantial service-learning component in Washington, D.C.

From the article:

Memorial Day is a day for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

As we gather around the grill with loved ones, let's also remember veterans who survived their term of service only to find themselves without a place of their own to celebrate holidays.

Fee in DC When I first began grappling with homelessness in my local community years ago, Dave, then the director of the local homeless shelter in our small town, told me a story which illustrates some of the special circumstances faced by homeless veterans in America.

A community of homeless vets had based themselves in caves outside of town, and after one was stricken with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized, his ongoing recovery left healthcare providers with a thorny dilemma: clearly, the man was ready to be released from the hospital, but they were loathe to send a recovering pneumonia patient to his home in the caves.

They released the patient into the care of the homeless shelter, and in short order the man's buddies came down from the hills and reclaimed their comrade, who went back up to the caves to rejoin his community.

This story speaks to fundamental truths about homeless veterans in America: men and women who may have thrived within the military community sometimes find themselves at loose ends back home, where no one seems to know or care about their special needs.

Read the full story.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

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Posted: Sun, 25 May 2014

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