Homeless Vets Spark Outcry: Haven't We Learned?

1,500 back from Iraq now in poverty
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2008 4:22 PM CST
Vietnam veteran Lonnie Bowen Jr., left, and Mark Salvatore, a homeless outreach nurse with the Veterans Administration embrace outside The Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center in Philadelphia,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Iraq war veterans are suffering from stress, turning to alcohol, and falling into poverty—a fate that prompts some to ask whether the US has learned from tragedies of veterans past. Washington has identified 1,500 Iraq vets as homeless and helped about a third, but echoes of Vietnam persist among activists. "I'm like, wait, wait, hold it, we did this before," one said. "I don't know how our society can allow this to happen again."

Iraq war vets suffer uniquely—repeated tours and roadside bombs seem to spark earlier stress disorders, which lead to money problems and homelessness, advocates say. One vet, haunted by his work unloading dead US soldiers, toyed with suicide before getting a divorce and turning homeless. "I was trying to live every day in a fog," he said. "Any loud noise would set me off. It still does."