Hanks Take: The Other Side of Veterans Day

- Eight-year Navy veteran Ted Williams has addiction problems, nowhere to live, and Veterans Day’s is cold this year.  Don’t forget him.   “Blood – sweat – and tears…  It’s written in blood,” He says, shivering on Kensington Avenue.   “The freedoms that we enjoy – just understand that somebody paid for it.”

Ben Torres was Army – field artillery.  He’s clean now for two years – but seeing fellow vets struggle makes him wonder – what is Veterans Day?   “I mean, there should be more than a Veterans Parade, it should be more than free food given out once a year,” he says. “Look for veterans every day.  Every day is Veterans Day.  Every day these veterans suffer.”

A quarter of homeless people are vets – according to the National Coalition for the Homeless.   Three quarters of them have drug and alcohol problems or mental illness.   And there are vets’ organizations, but they struggle too, which brings us to the other story.

“The veterans need more places they can go to than the hospitals and stuff – and the clinics,” says Bobby Orr of the Greater Kensington VFW Post, as he sets up to open for Friday night.  “They need places where they can go, sit down, socialize with other veterans… watching games – and other activities that go on in these posts too.”

Bobby says he’ll be happy if a dozen guys come by tonight.  A lot of VFW Halls are having a tough time.   “The people in the city just don’t care… and that’s the sad part.  Because you’ll be having a lot of these places close up at an alarming rate, and it’s not fair for, hopefully down the road, other veterans to join.   And there’s not going to be many around to join.

It’s just something to think about as you celebrate Veterans Day – with all the much deserved pomp and circumstance.  Things aren’t always great for veterans – and some are having a really hard time – and you may have heard what the suicide rate for vets is… it’s unacceptable.   Ben Torres was right – every day is Veterans Day – don’t forget it.  I’m Hank – and that’s my take.

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