Why Are We Not Still Talking About Homeless Veterans?

In the month of November, a disruption swept across the United States when the devastation from the Syrian Refugee Crises reached as far as our computers and television screens, prompting us to take action as a country and open our borders to Syrian men, women and children. With the swipe of a thumb, we were suddenly expressing our opinions endlessly across social media, text messages and emails about how we couldn’t possibly care for these displaced human beings located across the world when we had individuals outside our doorsteps, sleeping in between our businesses to provide for. The idea of “Taking Care Of Our Own” emerged from a viral photo of a homeless individual sleeping on the sidewalk in his tattered Army coat. With they hype and encouragement that seemed to surround this eye opening epidemic, we decided to partner with a charity for the month of December that supports struggling veterans and military personnel across the country. But, as with anything in news headlines these days, the hype was here one day and gone the next. 

When holiday shopping, decorating, cooking and traveling took prescience, we were quick to forget about those who spent Christmas Day wandering the streets unable to afford a warm meal or an individual who simply longed for a hot shower after spending hours on end in single digit temperatures. Prayers were said around dinner tables and at Christmas Eve services, but so many struggling military families couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill this month as we surged our homes with vibrant lighting ensembles. The media moved on with traditional movie broadcasts and persuasive commercials, and so did we. In the midst of our busy, safe lives we forgot about caring for our own and giving back to those who just one month ago we all vowed to help.

This comes as absolutely no ridicule or judgement to anyone. I know for a fact that there were people who sacrificed their time and money to pay it forward, and those who gave their last penny to make an effort during this high-stress holiday season. There were individuals that spent this time away from family and friends, and those that felt a gloomy presence as so often experienced on the holidays. We celebrated those who were not with us this year because they are fighting for our freedoms across seas and we continue to honor spirits that can only be felt through memories now. I will be the first person to admit that I so often get caught up in the selfish whirlwind of the gift giving season and overlook others’ sufferings. I know that there were individuals who gave all they had to make this season a success for their families and loved ones.

I understand the delicate balance of politics intertwined in our society today, and I am not here to speak on that. Rather, this is an effort to push something greater than homelessness, patriotism and personal political agendas into the new year. My hope going into 2016 is that we can start with a consciousness of the impacts we are making in our world. It starts with something as small as a Facebook post, a text message and an email. We tend to share more hilarious prank videos than news statistics and put our anxieties more on how we look and feel today than the impact we are leaving for tomorrow. Just as much as anyone, I enjoy watching elephants paint and babies laugh and I believe there needs to be more of that in this world. But I also challenge you, as I continue to challenge myself, to feed into more substantial stories and movements and efforts to better understand how we can give back to this planet rather than constantly taking.

2016 is going to have a concrete impression on the future of our nation. We have every opportunity in front of us to say, “Let’s Take Care Of Our Own,” and mean it. We have every right and every path looking forward to take us in a healthy direction, bringing lifetimes of vitality, conscious living and advancements of our country. The tools lie in our very hands, in our very minds. Millennials alone have the ability to completely turn our nation around. So, if you haven’t asked yourself already, I encourage you to now: Which direction are you going?

The reality is: the world will keep turning with or without us. Years pass by quickly, the friends we went to high school with have families and their children are not far from meeting their own high school friends. As we carry our pasts with us hoping to hold on to our younger years, we must embrace becoming adults now and determine what face the United States is going to have from now on. Sooner than later, we will be the veterans and the old folks who are reliable on younger generations to take care of us. I hope that by the time I have lived a full life, no one is blogging or vlogging or tweeting about how we can make the world a better place because I hope it is already happening. If you believe that you can make a positive difference, I promise you that you can. Whether you are a left wing, right wing, religious scholar or non-believer, we have a human responsibility to treat each other with dignity and respect and pursue a bright and promising future for ALL people.

 

Change starts with action. 

 

Start with these simple acts of kindness and consciousness going into a new resolution and a new year. See how giving back makes you feel and encourage your friends and family members to join you!

 

  1. Volunteer at a local VA. Start by filling out this form.
  2. Buy a 10-pack of socks from Amazon for $10.00 - Send them to a local homeless shelter.
  3. Call a local florist. Have flowers sent to a distant friend, relative or nursing home.
  4. Babysit for a single parent for free. 
  5. Go to the park. Get on the swing. Make at least one friend.
  6. Buy a cup of coffee for the next person in line. Let this story inspire you.
  7. Take a walk without your cell phone. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells. This is called being present.
  8. Leave someone a compliment on the internet everyday.
  9. Create Blessing Bags to hand out to those in need.
  10. Make a homemade crockpot meal for a nearby firehouse and thank them for their services.
  11. Be kind to yourself and others.

 

Simple changes can make enormous impacts. 2015 was a harsh year for our world and that may be the one thing that we can all agree on. Let's use it to push ourselves in to more sustainable and concrete living. Let's use it as a resource for finding better answers and getting more people involved. Let's become the nation and planet that we are so capable of becoming. I am honored, excited and eager to step into a new year with each and every one of you by my side. Here's to movement in 2016.

Love & Light 

- A