Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A soldier’s take on the homeless


I’m a 36-year-old soldier in the United States Army currently serving in Afghanistan. I often miss my hometown of Diamond Springs and the many generations of family members that still reside locally.

To keep up with the times and feel a little closer to home I often find my way to the Mountain Democrat’s Website to read the paper. Thank you by the way for making it available for me to do so. What I wanted to comment on is the seemingly rising population of homeless in our area. It remains a major topic of discussion lately in nearly every paper I read. My question is are these homeless local citizens who have had a rough go of it recently, or are they transplants who have decided to seek refuge in the Placerville area? And if the latter is it because we as a community offer the best homeless living assistance that can be found in the area?

By word of mouth or advertisement many of these unfortunate people have heard of the generosity and shelter our town is willing to provide. I think we are headed down a dangerous and slippery slope if this is the case. I see what real poverty looks like on a daily basis while on missions here in Afghanistan. These people struggle everyday in conditions that are unimaginable, working however they can in order to feed their families and create some kind of normal life. Couple that with the oppression from violent thugs that call themselves the Taliban, who cultivate fear by distorting and perverting religious beliefs.

But still these proud and hard-working people hold their heads high and are always smiling even with seemingly so little to smile about. Maybe I’ve grown hard and cold because of my surroundings and what I have seen but I believe any Afghan who had the life of a homeless person in Placerville would not remain that way for long. Inside of a week they would be working four jobs and planting crops behind Jiffy Mart.

Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan

Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 22 comments

  • Fran DuchampNovember 11, 2013 - 7:40 pm

    Mr. Addington, first thank you for your service. Most important there are many things happening...the people at the Haven are not the cause. All this sudden negative advertising is being done for a reason. If you look at the culture again where you are at--you will also see people who have lost everything and just need a "helping Hand"...the community at the Haven is a small group and are making progress towards going out and being on their own. I want to see the numbers--accurate numbers, before I will make any kind of judgement on what is being said about the homeless running through Placerville--I am also jaded...but it is with local government manipulating the truth. Again if you are who you say--my heart to yours for defending my freedoms--that many in government are just giving away. Economics is destroying our great country--not the homeless. This county is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on "trails"--yep bike and hiking trails. And" tourism", more web again look at the culture you are in right now...and the camps where some can take a moment to breathe. This camp is like that--a moment to breathe. Fran

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  • cookie65November 13, 2013 - 8:42 am

    Bradley, thank you for your service, you offer a perspective that far too many in this country choose to pretend doesn't exist. That perspective is what real poverty looks like and how in some parts of the world the freedom to choose doesn't exist. The people you encounter and interact with would trade places with in an instant with all the people we have in this country who believe this country is unfair to them. In this country you get to choose whether you live in a tent or a house on the beach. In the places you are talking about they don't. The people over there don't want a handout, they want freedom.

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  • Dink LaneNovember 13, 2013 - 1:07 pm

    You're right about how the Afghans would plant crops behind Jiffy Mart. But here in EDC the local police would be called, they'd tear up the garden and haul the gardeners in to court for destroying private property. Locals say they don't want HH because they destroy their property--maybe that's what happened.......... I went in and saw HH and it was clean, and well maintained -- like an Army Base. ........ Mr. Addington, thank you for your letter..... (I hate the empty phrase "Thank you for your service" and then people walk away.) So......... Mr. Addington, when you come home to Diamond Springs, Let me say "Thanks" by buying you a cold one!

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  • cookie65November 13, 2013 - 2:02 pm

    Dink, his entire point was wasted on you.

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  • Dink LaneNovember 13, 2013 - 3:20 pm

    Cookie -- I'm not feeling the love...

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  • Tom GibneyNovember 13, 2013 - 3:30 pm

    Mr. Lane, The homeless here are spoiled in comparison which is what the point of this letter was. Your first assault is on the police and the municipal laws, which is justified really. However the homeless in Afghanistan, Iraq or say,now the Philippines do not get welfare checks, food stamps or the ability to panhandle for booze and drug money. Granted, yes I know there are homeless people who actually have jobs and are trying to dig out from the muck and mire. I have been one of them decades ago. But Dink, a few tents and a clean campground make it seem like paradise. When was the last time you camped in a tent for weeks at a time? Fortunately the weather has been agreeable for now. Try living in a tent in the woods when it's torrential rain outside, Try living under a tarp when some religious fanatic is dropping mortars all around. Try getting a better grasp of reality Dink. Something you friggin liberals have no grasp of. Just send a check to UNICEF or NPR and feel warm and fuzzy.

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  • cookie65November 13, 2013 - 4:13 pm

    Tom Gibney, I have a relative who lived in a tent for a couple of weeks, been a home owner ever since.

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  • Dink LaneNovember 13, 2013 - 4:13 pm

    Mr. Gibney: I've done two tours, 68 and 70. Marines don't sleep in nice cozy bunks like the Garret-Troopers. We didn't have tents. I've seen poverty. The Philippines has some of the poorest of the poor.... My Filipino crew sent checks back to their families every month (Daughter-in-law still does)... This state has laws against panhandling (every poor country has panhandling--even Afghanistan), laws against where people can walk. Hitchhikers are no longer allowed. .... I think Mr. Gibney, your inflamed 'fear' of someone showing compassion and consideration has your head spinning. Maybe it's time to go get a beer and shoot some pool ..... Go buy one of Mr. Addington's buddies a drink and listen their issues.... stop chawing about your make believe issues...

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  • Tom GibneyNovember 13, 2013 - 4:56 pm

    Mr. Lane, I have been to the Philippines, lived there for almost a month.(Thanks to my rich uncle and his ship...) I do respect your time in Vietnam, Thank you. However, what I cannot comprehend is your concept of 'my fear' of compassion? I will stand by my point that the homeless here are spoiled in comparison to other parts of the world. Again I have been homeless, I have seen compassion and thus the lack of. I have also utilized the welfare system to assist me out of that hole. Now, I do know several Marines, Air Force and Army personnel who have spent more time than they have desired in the middle east. I get my knowledge from them. Sorry, not first hand. (However I did at one time apply to a contractor in Iraq for a job and was denied...I was 39 at the time..too old?) I have done my fair share of helping those in need. I have as well found out some of them to be Charlatans. For now our homeless and poor have it much better than others in the world. Granted it is awful to be homeless and poor regardless, But considering the help that is offered from our state and country, It beats Kabul, Baghdad or Tacloban any day. So excuse me if I am not affected by your BS indignity and sarcasm.

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  • Kristy CrowderNovember 13, 2013 - 7:51 pm

    Tom you are so right! America has the richest poor people in the world. And hopefully you don't get verbally attacked as I have been for stating I was on welfare for 6 months, and then went on to become a successful tax payer for 35 years. I was able to use the system as it was meant to be and sounds like you did too! It was never meant to be a long term life style. And so many of the homeless are that way because they choose to be, as was said, some don't like the shelters, well, sometimes you have to do things you don't like to do, that's life, no one ever said it was fair, and sometimes it's not very nice either. I feel bad that the HH people have to move this time of year, but they have known it would probably happen for months, and so have the volunteers who have be helping them. Yes, they may have to go to the shelters that they don't like, but again, that's their life. There is plenty of help out there, but they don't want to live by the rules, so they get what they get.

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  • Phil VeerkampNovember 13, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    Cookie, I lived in a tent for a week in Yellowstone. I came home, got on the computer, printed a sign, "F^#K CAMPING".

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  • EvelynNovember 13, 2013 - 4:31 pm

    My maternal great grandparents spent their first winter in Bottineau, North Dakota (- 40degrees) in a tent. But times were so different then. They homesteaded, and prospered. Land no longer can be acquired that way.

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  • EvelynNovember 13, 2013 - 4:43 pm

    Checking my great grandmother's diary, I see I've managed to embellish a bit. Nevertheless, it was damn cold that first winter in a tent!

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  • Phil VeerkampNovember 13, 2013 - 4:38 pm

    There was no "Bottineau", Evelyn - just prairie and a creek.

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  • EvelynNovember 13, 2013 - 4:40 pm

    Yep. It became Bottineau.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 13, 2013 - 4:42 pm

    (I hate the empty phrase "Thank you for your service" and then people walk away.) Dink...I meant what I was not an empty phrase. He is a service person..he bares arms for my country--he risks his life for the constitution. Although he is younger than I--his has earned my respect in something he does...and I have no clue how many dangers in faces. the simple statement was my way of showing him respect. A simple" thank you.." James what is the proper way to say thank you to a service person please?

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  • Phil VeerkampNovember 13, 2013 - 4:52 pm

    Check again, Evelyn. I think that you will read that your Great Grandpa turned the first furrow of prairie soil either in Bottineau County or was it North Dakota?

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  • EvelynNovember 13, 2013 - 5:59 pm

    "They arrived at the west end of Turtle Mountain the first evening and put up their horses for the night. Next day they left their outfit there and went on horse back the rest of the way. They went around the west end of the mountain and followed along the foothills until they came to Oak Creek, then followed up to what is known as Dana’s Grove. Both old and recent settlers know where that is. Arrived at noon on July 3rd 1882. They stopped there, fed their horses and themselves. Their first meal consisted of bread, sardines, and tea made from creek water. It was a very meager meal, but they were all very tired and hungry and glad to have that much. . . . This was all the settlers as yet, and as I mentioned, the two boys arrived back with their outfit July 4th 1882 at noon, and Robert Brander, having a plough in his outfit, unloaded and ploughed a furrow around his claim, this being the first furrow ploughed in Bottineau County. On the fifth they measured and staked out all their claims."

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  • Phil VeerkampNovember 13, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    I continue to marvel at their strength, courage, intelligence and good fortune. What a time!

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  • Catherine K. DavisNovember 14, 2013 - 4:18 am

    After reading Mr. Addington's letter, I was compelled to write my own. And I will start by saying I have had many years experience working one to one with the homeless. First, Mr. Addington asked the question: is the homeless population in the Placerville area locals having a rough go or transplants who decided to seek refuge there.... So, I will address that question... The homeless population is not just increasing in the Placerville area, it is increasing nationwide. There are homeless in small towns and big cities, If you statistically looked at the population in its whole, you would not see a "quote-unquote" middle class family just going through rough, times. In fact, regardless of any recession-very few homeless are in that situation due to losing their jobs or homes. That is not to say-those folks are a part of the population-just a very, small part. If you dissected the population you will see a majority of alcohol and drug, mental health or physical issues. These are the facts. Mr. Addington stated that many Afghan individuals have come from unimaginable conditions, yet hold their heads high and if in a homeless situation would not remain that way for long. And I appreciate that point of view, but one is talking apples and oranges here." I think if you had an Afghan person who is schizophrenic or addicted to heroin you would not find them holding their heads high, regardless. Also, to answer Mr. Addington's question about whether the population is local or transplants-it is both, but mostly transplanted. The homeless population is a transient one. People end up at other places for lots of reasons-services being one. The questions continues to arise-what to do? Well, the thing is no matter where one is located there will be homeless. And unfortunately and sadly the percentage of those that successfully are able to address their issues and leave homelessness and become viable, community citizens is not a high one. I think apartment-style housing with added community services is part of the answer for part of the population I think goal, oriented programs with mental health/AOD components are part of the answer for again part of the population. The truth is you will always have a large, percentage of this population that will always be chronically homeless. No matter what you do or how much you give. Regardless, of tent cities or free rooms, some people just can't get beyond their problems, not to remain homeless. It is sad and it is unfortunate and it is and always will be a societal issue without an answer, no matter where you are at. So, as a community the best one can do is to understand this factor. A community does need a program to assist individuals that can make personal, changes, get back on their feet and get out of the homeless cycle. Not to enable, but assist.

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  • Nathan FoltzNovember 14, 2013 - 8:31 am

    Brad I was told that a Folson police car was seen dropping off three homeless people at the main street firestation who then asked where the haven is Sounds like we are recruiting homeless from other cities that don't want them anymore It's like feeding straigh cats the more you give the more that show up. Thank you for your service and your letter

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 14, 2013 - 8:35 am

    Nathan Foltz...really?

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