I'm walking to the bank earlier to get the money order for a Kimber TLE II, and at an intersection is a man holding up a sign for stopped traffic to read:
"Homeless Veteran, Need money for food, God Bless."
This is nothing new, theres always someone on this corner in need of help. But there were a few things I noticed that made him different.... His clothes were clean, well kept. His facial hair was groomed, no beard by a mustache, hair was seemingly well kept as well. He stood straight and I could tell he had some stubborn pride left in him.
All the others who ask for assistance wear raggety clothing, havent bathed in weeks, reek of BO and booze.
I just walked by at that point, but I was thinking more about my indifference. I have never given anything to anyone asking for money, for up here there are so many programs for the homeless that they dont have to go hungry or without a roof over their heads. All they have to do is stay sober.
Then I started comparing a Vietnam Vet to a WWII Vet, and here is my quandry: Why is it that I feel a different level of respect for a WWII Vet over a Vietnam Vet? The US lost thousands of soldiers in Vietnam, whether or not it was a "just" war, thats not the issue here though.
So at that point (I'm almost made it to the bank) I think "Maybe I should drop him a few dollars on my way back". But then I remember that our state also has a program for Veterans to get them back on their feet. They provide housing, food, and help them find work. They have stricter rules, such as curfews and limited number of visitors they can have come over, but its still better than standing on a street corner.
He was gone by the time I returned, but what would you have done?
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April 5, 2003, 06:07 PM
I live in a small city so we don't see too many homeless and who we do see, we almost know by name. I will and do hire a vet with extreme prejudice. But before I give a bum a dime I need to feel certain he was a vet (yea, vets can be bums). Their are just too many fakes out there doing quite well with their scam. The local cops pretty much know, just ask.
April 5, 2003, 06:21 PM
You can always ask them for a copy of their DD-214 before you fork over some money. :rolleyes:
April 5, 2003, 06:32 PM
I was driving around town doing computer service calls in my
rustbucket 74 impala.
I saw a well groomed homeless veteran holding a sign.
Since I had to pass the same spot a few times I ended up stopping for gas near the corner where he was "working"
He got into a shiny red new Jeep Wrangler and drove off.
20/20 reported that some pan handlers average 38k per year.
(grain of salt added)
If someone can stand on the corner all day holding a sign
and chain smoking $3.80 a pack marlboros then they can get a
job as a construction helper and make $9 per hour
When I was younger and dumber I gave one guy a couple bucks
and he asked "is this all you have?"
Real homeless people are out on the streets surviving not taking motorists on a guilt trip.
April 5, 2003, 06:41 PM
Even if there were a program and all that, a few bucks wouldn't break the bank. I'd have dropped a few bucks.
April 5, 2003, 07:02 PM
Giving homeless people money can probably be compared to dumping fleas on a dog. They're gonna suck until it's dry, then move on to the next host. Homelessness is usually a choice.
April 5, 2003, 07:21 PM
What you should have done is exactly what you did. Keep right on walking. I haven't had this problem since last night, in other words it happens all the time. The fact that he is a vetern doesn't change the fact that he is responsible for himself, and it is his problem, not yours, to ensure that he lives the lifestyle he desires.
As a matter of fact, I would be much more inclined to give money to someone like yourself who was holding a sign that said, I went to school and paid attention, instead of getting high and drunk all the time I studied and worked, I get up and go to work every morning even though I don't want to, and I can't make it because half my money goes to support other people who don't do any of this stuff.
I have never understood this guilt driven desire to reward the failures in life and penalize the successful. By successful, I don't mean the rich although they are more successful than everyone else, I am talking about someone who just pays their own way instead of being a leech.
April 5, 2003, 07:36 PM
I never give money to the homeless I knew. I'd take them to Booger King and buy them a burger. A little over a buck and I feed a man.
Modernly, I give to the charity of my choice, get a tax receipt and write it off. Better to give $ to a food program where it won't be wasted on drugs/alcohol.
Exception is if you know the guy or know of the guy (thanks to reliable sources). Follow your heart then.
April 5, 2003, 07:57 PM
I guess by me being an ex-LEO and a veteran myself, I
can and do see both sides of the issue. Friends, I have
encountered U.S. military veterans for a long time; some
I have befriended, and other's I've had to put in jail. I
find that each one has their own individual story to tell;
whether they be true or false, in most cases the listener
has to find out for him or herself. Now, here comes the
A WWII veteran returned with all the fan fare, complete
with "ticker-tate" parades, well wishes, and etc. They
were looked upon as a direct mold of the very famous
poster painting's of that era, depicting "Old Uncle Sam"
in his U.S. of A. setson hat and pointing his finger saying;
"I Want You Boy"! Most WWII veterans were able
to find employment at decent wages; and most took this
opportunity to step forward in life, working hard and doing
his/her dead level best. In WWII, the "home folk's" were
very quick to render their support to returning veteran's.
President Franklin Roosevelt instituted what I call the
"Something For Nothing Program"; better known by its
more common name "WELFARE". The point I'm trying to
make clear is this; with the initation of this program those
folks that either didn't want to work, or could not work -
didn't have to, cuz the federal government took care of
The Viet-Nam war was altogether a different ball game.
Young solider's were being shipped off to a faraway, tiny
little country to fight an enemy that was well trained in
gurellia warfare tactic's. An enemy that would be working
the fields by daylight; then dress in black PJ's, and be
shooting at you at dark. Or popping out of "spider holes"
and taking a pot-shot at you; then duck back into the hole
for safety. At the same time, American sentiment stunk!
You had "Hanoi Jane" Fonda traveling with JFK
cabinet appointee Ramsey Clark traveling to
North Viet-Nam for interviews with our P.O.W."s.
Upon returning, "Hanoi Jane" conducted an interview
with the media and stated our POW's were being
treated humanely! All while, her picture was carried
in newspapers with her pictured at the controls of a
NVA anti-aircraft gun. My friend, in my way of thinking
that is TREASON; by aiding and abedding the enemy.
Returning troops were commonly called "baby killer's";
and often times had dog **** thrown in their face upon
arrival back in Oakland, CA! The Viet-Nam veterans NEVER
received a flashy "ticker-tate" parade through the street's
of NYC or DC; as a matter of fact, most never even
got a "thank you"; at a time when it really would have
meant something! Drug use was rapid among a group
of men and some women in Viet-Nam; on assignment
and in a war 10,000 miles from home, fighting an un-
known enemy. Upon returning home, some sought help;
other's didn't, for whatever reason? A great number have
even committed suicide; unable to cope with their memory.
Its a true statement to say that all war's produce HERO'S;
that was very true with the Viet-Nam war. If in doubt, just
go to, The Viet-Nam War Congressional Medal Of Honor
Citations; and read about the countless number of young
soul's who sacrificed their lives for your FREEDOM! Or go
to the virtual wall, and see the over 58,000 names of
persons that never came home! So this point is quite
clear; you can't judge a veteran by his/her looks, or
the rags on their back.
I know that "panhandler's" lurk at busy intersections
of most major cities; as I've had to deal with them on
numerous occassion's. But, if I have reason to believe
that they truly are a U.S. Military veteran; I won't turn
my back on them. If they are hungry, I will buy them
food; if they need shelter, I will see that its provided.
My reasoning for my feeling's is simple. While performing
my duties as a LEO, I had to put this individual in jail on
a bad check charge. Turns out, this fellow was a highly
decorated UNEMPLOYED Viet-Nam vet; having served
with the elite 101st Airborne between May 11-20, 1969
at hill 937, better known as "Hamburger Hill". With him
changing into a jail uniform I was able to see multiple
bullet wounds, scars and marks on his upper torso; +
I noticed a bad "limp" in his walk, almost like he was
dragging his leg. He was very hesitant to speak about
it; except to say he spent 2-1/2" years in a U.S. Army
hospital in Japan, learning how to walk again. Later,
I found out his very same fellow had been awarded
the Silver Star for act's during that period. I thought,
WOW! this cat was one step away from a:
CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR!
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
April 5, 2003, 08:06 PM
Most of these people have simply found a way to have a good tax free income!Professional panhandlers.Few saw military service.
Just my hard, cold opinion.
This opinion came from hiring one that was a vet....had to fire him due to alcohol...........dam near had to blow him away when he freeked and pulled a knife! Took 22 minutes for a 911 backup
to arive....a LONG 22 minutes!
April 5, 2003, 08:34 PM
99% of the charlatan panhandlers give the other 1% a bad name.
April 5, 2003, 08:37 PM
On the whole, giving money to bums amounts to buying them booze and drugs. If I've got money to squander, I'll squander it on useful things.
April 5, 2003, 09:10 PM
99% to 1% sounds about right to me.
April 5, 2003, 09:42 PM
I'm with Gary, Standing Wolf and Blackhawk....
The ones who truly need your help are out there trying to make it on their own. I will have to say that 99% of those who are "homeless" choose to be. There are plenty of shelters, homes etc. but they choose not to use them because there are rules about drugs and alcohol in those places. There is an entire subculture that moves from town to town, community fund to ministerial alliance program to Salvation Army.
I spent the better part of shift doing my level best not to arrest a homeless man one night. It was a cold December evening when at about 5:30 pm I received a complaint of a suspicious person loitering at one of the service stations near the interstate.
Upon arrival, I found a man carrying a pack and wearing about 3 layers of clothes, unshaven, unkempt, unbathed...everyone's seen the type. He produced a state issued ID card when I asked him for it and I ran him through the computer. 30 seconds later I received the "hit". He was wanted for failure to appear on retail theft in the Northern part of the state. I'm thinking "easy arrest, no paperwork to speak of and the night's still young, when the telecommunicator informs me that there is a geographical limitation on the warrant and the county he's wanted in won't come this far to extradite him. So I removed the cuffs, and told him he was free to go, but he couldn't loiter at the service station.
He asked me if there was a shelter in town because he was on foot and it was a very cold night. I told him no there wasn't but there was one in the next town. Because it was a very cold night, I gave him a ride to our PD, sat him in the warm lobby while I had the dispatcher call the shelter and have them send their van up to get him. Thinking that this was the end of the matter, I left him in the lobby and went back out on patrol. About 30 minutes later, I received a radio call that the subject in the lobby had decided he didn't want to go to the shelter after the van had arrived to pick him up. He told them he had hurt his leg and they had been nice enough to give him a ride to the ER.
About an hour later the ER called and asked us to come pick him up as there was nothing wrong with him and he was refusing to go to the shelter. We went out to the ER, once again declined to arrest him and told him to move on.
About 2 hours later an ambulance was dispatched to the IGA Supermarket where someone had fallen...Guess who? The ambulance arrived and the paramedics checked him out, found nothing wrong, took him to the ER, where the ER staff gave him a clean bill of health and once again showed him the door.
30 minutes later a call about him at the Hardees resturant creating a disturbance. By this time we had decided that he was going to have to commit a pretty serious offense to get to spend the night in the warm jail. Finally he got very verbally abusive with the clerk at another convenience store I went ahead and arrested him.
Many of you are probably wondering why he wanted to spend a night in jail, then see the judge in the morning and have another charge on his record instead of just going to the shelter? See, at the shelter, he'd had to have given up the two bottles of vodka he had in his pockets. If he went to jail or the hospital for the night, they would have returned them with his other things in the morning.
The amount of your tax money that is spent dealing with the homeless in this way is staggering. When you figure the cost of the two different officers who dealt with him, the cost to the people who run the shelter to send a van 40 miles round trip, the cost of the ambulance and ER staff plus the jail and courthouse staff, the taxpayers could have bought him a night in a good 4 star hotel. In fact, that might have been easier for all concerned. Perhaps I just should have bit the bullet and arrested him on the first minor disorderly conduct charge, but I just didn't want to see the county out all that money and I didn't want to take up space in the already overcrowded jail that might have been needed for a real criminal.
April 5, 2003, 10:32 PM
Jeff's story is something that I deal with on a daily basis. I get several "emergency" calls every shift where I know who the "patient" is going to be before I even leave the station. These guys know the system like they know the back of their hand, or the location of the nearest liquor store. I have talked to some of these guys over the years; they have an annual itinerary; they summer in Portland and spend the winter in Las Vegas. They know how many nights a week they can spend in shelter X, then they move to shelter Y. They know how often they can spend the night in an ER. They know which ERs they have been to when so they can pick one that might have forgotten about their last visit. They know how often they can get arrested and spend the night in jail. They know which hospitals are near shelter X so they can complain of a medical problem, get a ride to a hospital near where they want to go, then walk away from the ER to where they want to go without walking. Often, if they are sober enough, I just ask them what they want to do that day so they can save us all the charade. I have told guys, I will take you to the hospital but you have to make something up that is wrong with you. If they say they are having chest pain or some serious problem I tell them they have to pick something else or I will have to start an IV on them etc. Then they say their leg hurts, and we are both happy. Many times I have had them get abusive and or violent with me until I grabbed the bottle out of their pocket and threated to pour it out if they don't settle down.
I have tried countless times to treat these guys with the upmost respect and dignity. Often they won't let me. One experience similar to jsalcedo's stands out in my mind. I ran a call on a homeless guy that wasn't drunk, wasn't abusive and seemed like a guy down on his luck. He told me that he hadn't eaten for days. Well, we don't get breaks and just before the call I had bought some fast food to eat on the run. I gave him my food to eat on the way to the hospital (there was nothing wrong with him). He didn't thank me, he did appreciate it; instead he wanted something to drink. I asked him what he wanted and he said coffee. I told him I couldn't give him any coffee right now, but when we get to the hospital, I will get him a cup. At the hospital I got him a cup of coffee and he complained bitterly that I didn't give him cream and sugar. So, my career is a cycle of helping a guy, getting treated so badly that I lose interest for months, only to try again................. I have been doing this for 20 years. I have been in every homeless shelter, shanty town, jail, culvert, dumpster, alley, sidewalk, crack house, shooting gallery, flop house, ........................ in town. My opinions on the matter arn't something I arrived at from watching TV.
April 5, 2003, 10:55 PM
Coming out of a convienient store,bum asks for some money for food.I say "you hungry?"He says"yea,haven't eatin' all day".
I says"Lets go in the store and I'll buy you anything you want to eat".He says"can't I have the money instead?"
I says"thought so":rolleyes:
I got no problem helping someone out,but come on,some of these
street corner pan handlers are dressed better than me!
April 5, 2003, 11:07 PM
The homeless folk I know are mostly either severely mentally ill or hooked on alcohol/drugs or both. They are generally too disarrayed to take advantage of the generous social welfare available, everything from subsidised apartments to free healthcare to the food bank. Instead they live from hand to mouth, haunting the soup kitchens, selling blood plasma and running away from anyone who gets too close. The really sick ones seldom do the streetcorner begging.
I would say about half the folk I know who stake out roadway intersections are homeless, and they are heavily into drugs particularly crack cocaine. In our town there are a lot of fights over the choice intersections and several stabbed or beten to death per year. These are the same folk who scam the hospitals, coming in for a few days R&R by saying they are "suicidal".
The rest are entrepreneurs. The ones I have talked to generally make between $100-300 per day (tax free so add another 40%). they generally dress down for the job, parking several blocks away and walking to their corner so people won't "make" them. Think of them as entertainers like the clowns who sell balloons down in Jackson Square down by the Quarter.
April 5, 2003, 11:16 PM
"Meet fellow forum members, find a common ground. Introduce new people to responsible firearm ownership. Posts must be related to firearms."
Closing as OT.
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