Posted on November 28, 2017
Homelessness – Frankly, it “pees” me off! Not because I am tired of having people ask if I can spare some change, but because, in a “first world nation” there is no need for it. Simples!
I used to be the guy that walked past silently, as if no one had spoken with me nor tired hard to capture my attention. Then, I became the guy that would drop a “quid” into the outstretched hand with a deep-set hope that it would not be spent on booze or some low cost narcotic, but really, not that “bothered” – people make their own choices in life don’t they?
A few years ago, I was down, and had it not been for a loving family environment, I would have been “out” too… my daughter and I. This gave me a far closer perspective on homelessness, and frankly, too close for comfort.
Now, when homeless people approach me, I enquire how they are; I talk to them, I engage them, and try to bridge the societal gap. Sometimes, nearby store permitting, I buy them some food and a bottle of soft drink, to try and provide some sustenance. My surprise is that many of the people with whom I speak are ex Forces.
One could argue that as ex Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen, we are trained to endure hardship, and feel quite comfortable in “the field” and this argument is further supported by the number of ex-Forces people finding it incredibly difficult to adapt to civilian life (notwithstanding those who suffer physical impairments or PTSD. Nevertheless, it begs the question how we, as a society can permit this to happen; those that have served their country (whether or not they saw conflict, they took the Queens Shilling) and were prepared to do what was necessary to protect the ideals of our Nation as dictated by the Government. Yet, they find themselves cast upon the Scrapheap, and having to subsist on the charity of others.
Since my departure from the Army in ’96, I have to say that I sense a greater familial feel than when I was serving. The principle of “Mutual Support” is strong long after we have ended our colour service, and the tenet remains. Not in small part, a reason for my creating ExForcesNet.
My writing here has a two fold reason: First, to highlight the plight of our ex-colleagues who are subsisting on the street for whatever reason, and Second to generate a critical mass around the “mutual support” tenet and aid some of our brethren in getting back onto their feet, and providing value back to society.