02 January 2015

Why I'm about to be a thorn in some people's sides

If you're new to my blog and wondering what I'm going on about, it's all documented here: 2014 2013 2012

Picture yourself being in school half time, working part time, living in a homeless shelter. You have PTSD and you're fighting anxiety and depression. You can't sleep without sleeping pills. You end up shaking every time you hear a noise outside your door. Your landlord, Porchlight Inc, the non-profit charity that runs the shelter has decided that you have to go because you stand up for yourself and demand to be treated as a human being. Porchlight will tell you that it's all my fault. The VA, who was supposed to have my back, will tell you that there's something wrong with me that caused me to collapse at the end of the semester in spring 2014; that I failed in the face of being back out on the street. That it was my fault.

No, it wasn't my fault. I've had some time to think about things, to line things up. 

Given my disability-- PTSD, anxiety, depression-- and given the situation I was in while I lived in VA transitional housing plus being on the street again right before final exams, anyone going through that hell would have had trouble getting passing grades in classes. It's hard enough being in school and dealing with PTSD, but when your entire support system turns its back on you-- what else can you be but royally fucked?

After I'd been evicted from transitional housing, not one person called or checked to see if I was OK.
That's what really hits me in the gut-- that I could have walked a block down the street, pulled out my pocket knife and slit my wrists, and that would have been that. No one from Porchlight or the VA would have ever known, and no one from Porchlight or the VA would have cared.

Tell me, social worker who thinks they're helping eliminate homelessness among veterans, where in school do they teach you how to be that fucking cold? What class do you take that allows you to simply stop caring about a person that easily? 

I found a permanent apartment on my own. I enrolled in community college classes, and put up a 3.0 GPA for fall semester 2014.  Also in 2014, I had interviews with Google and Apple, attended a bunch of hackathons, and self taught myself a shit ton of new things about programming. It's a little late to try to get an internship for summer 2015, but I will get one for summer 2016-- maybe even at a startup in Silicon Valley. Hopefully UW will understand my situation and I'll be able to get back to finishing my bachelor's degree this fall, and even graduate next year.

Now that I have a stable living situation, and I'm not surrounded by people telling me how every bad thing in my life is my fault, things have improved. Imagine.  

I never intended to become an advocate for homeless veterans. I have my own issues to address, and maybe I'll suck as an advocate, but I can't just stand by and watch people who are getting paid to provide for my brothers and sisters pull the kind of shit that happened to me. How many veterans die on the street because some housing manager got pissed off and evicted them? How many veterans die on the street because the homeless program manager just figured they'd get a hotel room?

Some of you in the world of caring for homeless veterans are about to have a persistent thorn in your side. 

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