I recently read an article that a friend shared with me about homelessness being on the rise and the definition of the term, which can include sheltered or unsheltered persons. As I thought about that, it makes sense, because 95% of the people I encounter don’t have a place to dwell; no apartment, no roof over their heads, or no home. They use awnings from store fronts, doorways to block the wind, and any place that they can cozy up to sleep at night that will guard them from the weather elements. With that being said, I was in my room on the 4th floor downtown Detroit and I could hear a man with a loud tone talking so I peered out the window and noticed a man on the corner with multiple layers on. I decided to grab my lens bag and cameras and head down near him.
As I approached, he was gathering his things and began to walk in the direction I was travelling, and I was greeted by him. He introduced himself as Seion and he said, “What’s up young fella? Do you have any change to help a veteran out?” We then went through the formalities of sharing brief stories. Seion served from 1988 to 1996 in both the US Army and then the US Marine Corps where he was in Artillery in both branches. He went on to serve in Desert Storm and deployed to Kuwait. Seion told me that he was service connected, however, wasn’t interested in the shelters when they were offered to him.
He went on to explain to me that most veterans refused to be used! He explained to me that most shelters, when they find out you are service connected, take your monthly checks. I was puzzled, so he further explained that once you have been granted access based on having a monthly check, then your check is sent to them and then they determine how much of the money you are given. He said if you receive $1500 month, they may give you a couple hundred dollars for yourself. He said most of the government funded shelters are like that, so many veterans he knows who live on the streets will take their chances on the street. He said those that go to the shelters are the ones who are at their end (of life) or physically broken and need help.