12 January 2013

Transitional this, transitional that.

I live in a veterans transitional housing building. Veterans get into the same kinds of trouble as anyone else, perhaps more so-- especially when drugs, alcohol, PTSD, depression, etc. are mixed in with whatever happened before military service. Some of us, our mental health issues get tangled with some bad decisions, and we end up not being able to get an apartment. Some vets get arrested, convicted, and sent to prison. Each of us has a different story.

There are 25 vets that live here, give or take one (maybe two) depending on who is moving out, and who is moving in. I have a couple of close friends here now, a larger number of people I get along with pretty well, and a few I never see. Some guys here have substance abuse issues that they're trying to get resolved. Some guys are felons. Several are on probation, or parole. The rest of us are just veterans who ended up here.

All of us have something to complain about most days. If an airman's not griping about something, you wonder what's wrong. Everyone eventually gets a bug up his ass about some injustice or another that's a day past needing to be removed, and there's always someone around who will tell him to quit whining and being a shithead-- followed by figuring out what needs to be done to correct the situation.

We're all working, taking advantage of income based (meaning, low) rent to get some of our bills paid off. Some guys have two jobs. We get stuff out of storage that we haven't seen for months, or in some cases years. There are two other guys here who are students, one working on a bachelor's degree actuarial science and one going after his PhD in mathematics. 

We all grab from the shopping bags of bread that a local bakery drops off once a week. If we've filed a VA disability claim and been denied, we get help processing an appeal. If we haven't filed one, we get help filing a new claim. Being homeless usually makes us eligible for food stamps, so we apply and get approved for those.

None of us want to be here. We want to have normal apartments and houses where we can go to the fridge and get a beer, not worry about signing in once a day. Normal routines where we go to the grocery store and buy our own food, bring it home, and cook it in a real kitchen. This house isn't perfect, but it's better than sleeping on the streets.

(I admit, though, that when the guy wearing the Home Electronic Monitoring Program thing around his ankle is in the dining room, and the damn thing starts beeping, I'm a little unnerved.)

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