Forum, Aug. 12: How our military can help the homeless

Published: 8/11/2019 10:00:11 PM
How our military can help the homeless

A reasonable estimate of the number of United States military personnel deployed here in the U.S. is between 1 million and 1.5 million troops. There are more than 1,000 military buildings in the U.S. that have been abandoned or are currently unoccupied. These include many armories in large and small cities across the country as well as training facilities and sprawling airbases. A few armories have been recycled for civilian use, but most remain shuttered.

Think homeless people.

Many of these buildings, the government says, cannot be reused because they contain lead paint and asbestos. The military used these contaminated structures for more than 50 years. We’ve become quite skilled at remediating such buildings, including military facilities still in use. There are, in fact, troops or contractors trained in lead and asbestos mitigation.

Think homeless people.

If offered the duty, many servicemen and servicewomen would respond. If only one-tenth of 1 percent volunteered for a stateside mission that would help fellow citizens, the military would gain much more in goodwill than it would lose in its capacity to kill.

There is an argument that the military should not be in involved in civilian social services. It already is. Our forces have worked to “win the hearts and minds” of civilians in countries across the globe. It has built and rebuilt schools, hospitals and community centers.

The troops are available, the facilities exist and the will to help exists.

Then do it.

I have a plan that outlines the requirements, the logistics and the benefits of putting our servicemen and servicewomen on this project full time. It includes getting the rehabilitation and mental health treatment that are the root of half the homelessness in the country. It’s the shelter, yes, but it’s much more. A principal benefit is that we could feel good about doing good. Lord knows the country needs something to feel good about besides an inflated stock market.



Hoping to party like it’s 1923

Recently, at an otherwise peaceful social gathering, I spied a man wearing a red MAGA cap and asked him: “What year are you shooting for?” Noting a confused look, I expanded on the question: “When was America greater?” He shot back: “1923.” The man was in his early 70s.

Let’s review that year:

■ It was bracketed by the 1921 Emergency Quota Act (persecuting pre-Holocaust Jews fleeing from Europe) and 1924 Immigration Act (banning Asian immigration, limiting immigration of Jews, Greeks, Poles, Slavs and Italians; and creating a precursor to Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

■ The Rosewood Massacre in Florida left an all-black town burned to the ground and an unknown number of residents dead.

■ The Supreme Court ruled that Bhagat Singh Thind, an Indian Sikh, could not become an American citizen because he was not white.

■ The KKK ignored a law requiring the identification of its members.

■ The U.S. was in the midst of Prohibition, which created a niche for organized crime.

■ American life expectancy was 57. Leading the long list of now-obscure lethal illnesses was an almost yearly flu/pneumonia epidemic.

■ Only 35% of Americans had electricity (3% on farms).

■ Hitler’s attempted coup d’etat, “The Beer Hall Putsch,” failed — but not permanently.

It’s anybody’s guess why a man born two decades later would pick 1923 as his high point in American history. (I suggested 1776 or 1787, years of hope and inspiration.) He didn’t stop, however, espousing that: “There is no racism in America. ... There used to be, but no more,” and that it was the Democrats that started racism, slavery and the KKK.

That purview, of course, has long since shifted. After Franklin Roosevelt’s administration promised social justice through expanded government policies, and the Truman, Kennedy and Johnson administrations’ support of civil rights, the Republican Party reacted by moving in the opposite direction.

So, here we are in 2019: government by Fox News, rule by tweet and Alexander Hamilton rolls over in his grave.



Stink bombs bursting in air

It is a dishonorable deed that President Donald Trump has thrust his bully, name-calling stink bombs upon a most honorable congressman, Elijah Cummings, and the historic city of Baltimore.

For Trump to paint Baltimore in nasty, repulsive terms is indicative of his lack of comprehension of history. Our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, was written by Francis Scott Key as he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, which preserved our fledgling democracy during the War of 1812. We drew a line in Baltimore and because of that we are free and independent nation today. So the next time you stand with your hand over your heart and sing our national anthem, you are honoring how Americans stood firm in the great city of Baltimore.

Trump needs to apologize to Cummings and to the city and people of Baltimore. Republicans need to make him apologize. If they cannot, then they need to remain seated and quiet during our national anthem. To do otherwise is pure hypocrisy.




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