Posts Tagged ‘Veterans’

A wind-chill advisory was in effect today until noon for the Omaha area and parts to the south toward Nebraska City, Falls City and Beatrice and sections west that included Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney and Hastings. The advisory was also issued for extreme northwest Iowa and most of southwest Iowa.

As a bitter cold front is making its way into the Metro area in Omaha this week, furnaces will be set on high, and people will be bundled up trying to keep warm as they venture outdoors. Wind chill will set record temperatures as low as 30 below zero. With temperatures forecast to be below zero for highs, being outside can be deadly.

The cold ripped through my body in just the few minutes it took me to take out the trash today—so how can someone survive for long periods of time outdoors in this? Where do the homeless go when temperatures get dangerous?

Local shelters have been preparing to absorb more people because of the cold.
Mike Saklar, Executive Director of the Siena/Francis House in Omaha said, “This is very dangerous weather.” Mike has seen this before. He sees the homeless every day and knows that when the weather gets dangerously cold like it means that some will show up suffering from the cold. Although Mike and the staff at the Sienna/Francis House always expect an increase in visitors in cold weather, it’s an overwhelming challenge now because of the already extreme overcrowding.

The Sienna/Francis House has a policy of never turning anyone away who shows up. Rather than referring to visitors as clients, Mike and his staff refer to the homeless as guests. Mike considers himself as a kind of Shepard; and like any good shepherd, he knows that he’ll have to try and look for some of the lost sheep on the cold streets of Omaha. “We’ll send out patrols every hour looking for people.” He said. “And we’ll do it all night.”

Teens are especially vulnerable when the weather turns cold. Because of young people aging out of foster care system or an abusive family situation, many youth end up on the streets to fend for themselves. Shawn Miller of Youth Emergency Services said he would locate shelter for any teenager who needed it. He expected 60 or more teens to show up for Tuesday’s pantry night near 26th and Harney Streets. “We’ll do whatever we can to make them safe for the night,” said Miller, outreach coordinator for YES. That includes transportation to a shelter, a friend’s home or anywhere else they’ve found to stay.

It only takes a moment.
It can only take a matter of minutes for someone to suffer from frostbite in bitter cold. Dr. Mindy Lacey, of UNMC, said, “The most common areas that we see that get frost bite are the ears, nose, fingers and toes.” The worst effect of frostbite is with the onset of tingling or numbness and not understanding what’s happening. For the vulnerable or those who simply don’t know better, waiting too long after being exposed to the cold, could cause them to suffer irreparable damage.

Places like the Open Door Mission in Omaha are seeing a lot more people who need a place to keep warm too. “All of our beds on campus are filled, but we can always drag out another mat, we can get more blankets, linens and pillows,” said Candace Gregory, CEO of the Open Door Mission. “The Open Door Mission is already overflowing.” She said. “All of the shelter’s 860 beds are full, and on Monday night there were nearly 200 men, women and children sleeping on mats.” The Lydia House, a shelter for women and children at the Open Door Mission, has also seen an increase of 37 percent. They are maxed out at that facility.

Del Bomberger, executive director of the Stephen Center, said his shelter has plenty of mats and floor space in the gym at its temporary location in the old St. Mary Catholic School, at 5310 S. 36th St.

There are approximately 2000 homeless men, women and children in the Omaha Metro Area each night. Brutal weather has left workers scrambling to provide enough space, blankets, coats and gloves for those seeking refuge from the cold.

How you can help
Below is a list of critical needs for homeless shelters. You can drop these off at any of the local shelters in your area.

• Blankets, sheets, and pillows
• Gloves, hats, and coats of all sizes
• Men’s and women’s wool socks
• Thermal underwear – size small, medium, large and X-large
• Winter boots of all sizes

Living on the streets is dangerous any time of year, but that’s especially dangerous when temperatures dip below freezing. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia every year. But unless someone is underage, you can’t force them to come inside. If you know someone is living outside and you can’t get them to seek shelter, call the police and let them know, so they can take them to one of the shelters, because…

No one should die just because they’re homeless.

Their stories are as varied as their circumstances. Some of the homeless have graduate degrees; others served with honor in the military; still others once held high-paying jobs. What causes homelessness? A serious illness or disability, a lost job, and domestic violence are among many reasons. But even so, there are some important lessons we can learn from the homeless:

1. Be content with what you have
You might be surprised to know that there are a lot of homeless people who are quite content with their lot in life. Many are happy to be out of the rat race and free of the trappings that the rest of us have in our lives. Not only that, many homeless people remain upbeat and positive despite what life has thrown their way.

2. Be Thrifty
Homeless people know the value of a dollar in a way few of us can understand. And they know how to make it last. Every quarter, dime, nickel or penny that comes their way is used in the most efficient way possible. You won’t ever see a homeless person paying for a $5 coffee at Starbucks when they can get it for free at any day shelter across the city. We could learn a thing or two from them about spending wisely.

3. Be Resourceful
We’re conditioned from a pretty early age to get a good education, work hard, earn a good paycheck and then buy what we want. But many homeless people don’t have the benefit of a good education—or a good paycheck. But they do know where every food pantry and soup kitchen is; when every bakery disposes of their day-old products; and where the best thrift stores are. They feed and clothe themselves on their own initiative and savvy. We should all try to cultivate this kind of resourcefulness.

4. Help others
Being homeless is no picnic for those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the street. However, if you were to watch them closely you would discover that many of them share what they have with other homeless people. This should challenge us to share what we have with those around us as well. There are a thousand daily comforts we take for granted that homeless people never get to enjoy. We have these luxuries that we keep to ourselves while others go without. We should share with others out of the abundance that we have, because in the end, we’re no different than anyone else, and tragedy could befall us as well.

5. Persevere
A homeless person will stand at a corner all day begging for change or for any kind of work. I know there are stories of some people begging on street corners who are not really homeless, but they are the exception rather than the norm. Most of those you see on street corners really are homeless. They tough it out for as long as it takes, every day, to get enough money to eat and maybe a bed for the night. They don’t get sick days or vacations and many of them refuse welfare handouts, choosing instead to work for every penny they get.

Many of them look at their homelessness as a ministry. They persevere because they know that they are homeless for God’s greater purpose—the same purpose that God put us in our homes, at our jobs, and with our families. No matter what our economic status is, we should all be willing to learn from the homeless.

The Bible speaks plainly about homelessness:

“If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” (Leviticus 25:35-36)

“Then the King will say to those on the right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:34-40)

Many people ignore the homeless, I think because they believe there is little they can do to “fix them”. But it seems to me that we’re the ones who need to be fixed. Anyway, it’s not God’s intention that we “fix” the homeless any more than it is His intention that the homeless fix us.

The apostle Paul wrote that we are one body in Christ. (Romans 12:5) Everyone—rich, poor, every race, every age—has a legitimate role to play in that body. We may go to a homeless shelter, or an orphanage, or a nursing home with the intention of helping someone else, but ultimately, we will be helping each other become the body God envisioned from before creation.

Mother Teresa, who worked with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta for most of her life said, “God makes no distinctions between rich and poor. In fact, the rich are often poor in spirit, while the poor may have many qualities the financially wealthy lack.”

Think about this: Every one of us is spiritually homeless. We live in temporary bodies, in a temporary house, on a temporary planet. No matter how modest or grand our living situation is now, we are all waiting to take our permanent places in God’s kingdom.

The most important thing we can learn from the homeless is that God has not forsaken them—and He’ll not forsake us either.

Ahh, Christmas time has come to us again! That time of year when joy fills the hearts of people everywhere. When we find people bustling through department stores and shopping malls to purchase that perfect gift for those they love—that one time of the year when we have peace on earth and good will toward all men. Right? Really? Ask any homeless person if they feel there is good will toward all men.

Homeless people are not respected by and large. Many of them will receive a Christmas dinner at a shelter and a few stocking-stuffers, and then it’s back on the street. The number one thing that they need and often deserve, even if you don’t know them, is respect. Respect them as a human being and fellow traveler on this journey we call life.

Living on the street is not like camping. You must be consistently on the move, and ready to get up and leave when you are asked to do so. If you are on the street, it is usually because circumstances beyond your control have forced you into that position in life. Living on the street, life is far harder than you could ever possibly imagine if you have never been there. Homeless people have needs like everyone else in this world. Their needs are usually very basic and to give of your time just to talk to them sometimes can really help. But if they don’t want to talk to you, respectfully back away. Otherwise, listen to what they have to say even if it makes absolutely no sense to you. It doesn’t have to. They are talking because they are alone and feel that they are without hope. And being without hope will eventually kill you.

There are many things that people on the streets will need to survive. For the homeless to lack some of these items could well lead to their death. To survive, they need things—small things. Like soap, shaving gear, postage stamps, pencils, and paper. Even having a good book will help to alleviate the burdens they carry around mentally every day.

The list above is good, but it does not cover the whole issue of how they will get money. Money is the key ingredient that everyone needs, but many will abuse it. If you really want to help a homeless person, give them a job if you can do so. There are many carpenters, electricians, and factory workers that are now homeless. Please do NOT discriminate against them; because everyone else is already doing that.

So during this Christmas season of giving, if you have anything that you can give, do so. Some people will argue that this only encourages them to stay on the street. It’s true that it will encourage a few of them to remain where they are, but there are those out there who, by simply giving them a bottle of water, a hot meal, or simply a smile and a kind word, will possibly save their life.

Some simple gifts that most of us can give:
• Instead of giving them money directly, go out and purchase Subway gift cards, and the like. Think about this, Subway and many of the sandwich places are selling subs for fewer than five dollars! By giving a homeless person a gift card for 10 or 20 dollars you may well give them food for three to four days! A lot of homeless eat very little and their stomachs are no longer as strong as they used to be. Sandwiches, especially from healthy places like subway, provide a great deal of nutrition that they desperately need.
• Do not give a homeless person greasy food! You know what that does to you and what ends up in the toilet? Try eating that and not having the opportunity to use a bathroom!
• One of the greatest problems that the homeless have right now is the need to bathe and finding a place where they can do that at. Most locations will force them from the property because of health risks, but most homeless people know where they can go to clean up. If you want to help, give them small bottles of antibacterial liquid soap. (Bar soap is harder to store and they may be allergic to some types of scented hand soap)
• An inexpensive sturdy back pack can prove to be invaluable to a homeless person. They can use it to safely store all of their items while still being able to remain mobile.
• You can usually find inexpensive seasonally appropriate clothing at a local thrift store to give to the homeless—Coats and accessories such as mittens and stocking hats in the winter and shorts and flip flops for the summer.
• The reason that you see homeless people carrying around cardboard is that the cardboard provides a layer of protection between them and the cold concrete they often sleep on. A Yoga pad that can be rolled up would help considerably. (And they’re not as unattractive as a rolled up piece of cardboard)
• Blankets are important too. Even when it’s warm during the day, weather can turn cold at night and a person should stay covered when they sleep.
• There are many things that can be done, if we simply think of the homeless as our fellow human beings and give them the respect that all humans deserve.

Don’t leave taking care of the homeless just up to the shelters. Remember what Jesus said: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (See Matthew 25:31-46)

 

“If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.” – Proverbs 29:12

According to the AMA’s code of medical ethics, “Physicians have an obligation to assure the disclosure of medically appropriate treatment alternatives, regardless of cost.”

And yet America’s disabled veterans have been victimized by a corrupt claims agency within the Department of Veterans Affairs, with a well-documented history of falsifying evidence and shredding documents submitted by veterans in support of their claims in order to cheat America’s disabled veterans out of the benefits they EARNED.

Recently, Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman, who has been accused of running the VA’s hospital with a double secret waiting list, received a $9,345 annual bonus for 2013, despite possibly being responsible for the death of 40 veterans who died waiting for doctors’ appointments! This is exactly the same sort of Bizarro-World performance evaluation system that got VISN 4 Director Michael Moreland a $63,000 bonus just days before the VA Pittsburgh announced a deadly Legionnaires ‘disease outbreak in November 2012!  http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4847570-74/bonus-moreland-veterans#axzz306pVtfBa

Doctor Sam Foote exposed the ‘secret waiting’ list at the Phoenix VA medical center. Doctor Foote is now retired, but he worked at the VA medical center for 24 years. Foote says he became suspicious in December of 2012. “We had thirteen thousand patients that we did not have primary care providers for, and we had over a year waiting list,” said Foote.

Dr. Foote told FOX 10 News that after a meeting with clinic directors and the head of primary care in 2012 it was decided that the VA doctors would pick up 67 new patients. “So by mid-January my clinic had pretty much finished our work ahead of everyone else. I said well, do you have any more patients for us? And he said no and that made no sense.”

Foote says the secret waiting list began in February of 2013 and that if they were on that list there was no record that the new patient ever came to the medical center. He explained how this was done: “You would come in and they’d register you in the computer, (or so you thought) and rather than hit save they would hit print and do a screen capture. Then they would not enter your data in the computer. They would take the paper up to health administrative services and then they would put it on a secret paper list at that time, and then shred the screen capture shot.”

Last week the VA’s medical director Sharon Helman told fox 10 News, “I have never directed staff to do a secret waiting list.” But Doctor Foote believes Sharon Helman is using a play on words. “She didn’t say she didn’t know about it and didn’t agree with it.” Said Foote. He believes that director Helman lied about wait times so that she could get a bonus. He’s asking anyone who may have lost a relative due to the wait times to contact him at sfootemd@gmail.com
http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/story/25337334/2014/04/25/va-whistle-blower-speaks-out-about-secret-waiting-list#ixzz2zxE9l0u8

Corruption in government is nothing new. It has existed since the first king sat on his throne. But it should infuriate us to think that those who have put themselves in harm’s way in order to faithfully serve our country and protect us from our enemies have been treated so badly by corrupt officials and politicians for so long:

A “Primetime Thursday” investigation in 2004 by Diane Sawyer uncovered disturbing information by hidden cameras about the quality of care and questionable management practices at some VA hospitals, including misdiagnosis. One patient, Terry Soles, who served in the Navy during the war in Vietnam, went to a V.A. hospital for two years complaining of intense abdominal pain and diarrhea. His wife finally took him to a private doctor, who diagnosed him with cancer. Soles died three days later.

Two years after a report regarding incompetent VA staff, US Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the VA was still doing a poor job of checking health care providers’ backgrounds. At least 63 cases of malpractice were found between 1997 and 2002 that resulted because of the failure of a supervisor to oversee residents. These cases included misdiagnosis, surgical and medication errors, and inadequate care.

In November 2008, the VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia sent a letter to more than 1,200 patients who were treated for ear, nose and throat, warning them they may have been exposed to infections.
Following a December 2008 investigation at the VA clinic in Murfreesboro, TN, officials discovered that clinic workers were not properly maintaining the medical equipment used to conduct colonoscopies. More than 6,000 patients were notified and offered free testing.

In March 2009 VA officials announced that veterans in South Florida may have been exposed to Hepatitis and HIV after being examined with contaminated medical equipment. According to reports, more than 3,200 veterans who received colonoscopies at the Miami VA medical clinic between May 2004 and March 12, 2009 are at risk of exposure to both Hepatitis and HIV.

So what can veterans do?
Filing a veterans’ medical malpractice claim under the FTCA is complicated and typically requires help from VA medical malpractice lawyers who understand the requirements for filing medical negligence lawsuits. For instance, before you sue, an administrative claim has to be made against the VA for the full amount of damages you have suffered, and that is difficult and risky to determine. Once you have filed your administrative claim, you won’t be able to ask for more damages—EVER AGAIN–unless you have evidence that proves additional damages are warranted and you didn’t have knowledge of them prior to filing your claim. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help determine how much in damages you are entitled to receive and will make sure you don’t “short change” yourself. Of course, a VA medical malpractice lawyer sometimes works FOR the VA.

After your administrative claim is filed with the FTCA, the VA is entitled to six months for investigation and review of your claim. The VA can then do the following:
• Accept the claim and pay it out in full
• Settle the claim for less
• Reject the claim outright.

If your claim is rejected, your next step is to file a lawsuit in federal court. If the VA does nothing within six months, this means that your claim has been rejected. You can sue in federal court under the FTCA, which allows you to file a lawsuit within 2 years of discovering your injury and what caused it. But keep in mind that this time frame includes the 6-month time period needed to file and complete your administrative claim. It is imperative that you meet these legal deadlines; if not, you may lose your claim forever! A veterans’ lawyer experienced in VA medical malpractice can help to protect your claim and possible recovery.

Our system of government was designed to serve and protect its people. But over the years it has become more and more corrupt. The Bible is very clear regarding corrupt governmental leaders: Proverbs 16:10 says, “The lips of a king speak as an oracle, and his mouth should not betray justice.” Proverbs 17:7 says, “Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool — how much worse lying lips to a ruler!” Proverbs 28:3 says, “A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.” Proverbs 28:16 says, “A tyrannical ruler lacks judgment, but he who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long life.” And Proverbs 29:4 says, “By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.”

Please pray with me that soon God will intervene so that His justice will be given to our brave men and women who have given up so much to serve our country.

Because if our military goes down then we will all go down!

 

 

Across the country, tens of thousands of underemployed and jobless young people, many with college degrees, are struggling to house themselves in the wake of the recession, which has left workers between the ages of 18 and 24 with the highest unemployment rate of all adults. Click HERE for labor stats 

Some can move back home with their parents, but that’s not an option for those whose families have been hit hard by the economy. Without a stable home address, they are part of an elusive group that hope to avoid the stigma of public homelessness and are missed by many yearly homeless counts. They are mostly couch surfers or sleep hidden away in cars or other private places, during what they hope will be a temporary predicament.
These young adults have joined the new face of a national homeless population; one that poverty experts and case workers say is growing. Yet the problem remains mostly invisible. Most cities and states, that focus on the chronically homeless have not made special efforts to identify and help young adults and homeless families with children, who tend to shy away from ordinary shelters out of fear of being victimized by the chronically homeless who may have criminal backgrounds or who are mentally unstable.

$20.5-million complex for the chronically homeless?
The Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles is building a 102-unit, $20.5-million complex by stacking pre-outfitted apartments atop one another in a Lego-like fashion to save time and money. The residents will pay 30% of their monthly job or government assistance income as rent but are not required to seek on-site medical treatment, psychiatric counseling, drug or alcohol treatment or therapy as a condition of residency.

“The thought is, how do we help people make the choice that is best for them,” said Mike Alvidrez, executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust, who stressed the trust’s Housing First model — a philosophy that has caught fire nationwide. Alvidrez said, “The first step to helping someone recover from a chronic drug or alcohol problem is to give them a home and sense of community.”
But will someone who has a permanent residence they can afford seek out psychiatric counseling, drug or alcohol treatment on their own? Most likely, they will not. But thankfully, the problem can be hidden from the people of Los Angeles now. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-skid-row-housing-20121216,0,1039440.story

Not all shelters agree with this “Housing First” philosophy.
Founded in 1975, the Siena/Francis House is Nebraska’s largest shelter, providing food, emergency shelter & clothing, along with outreach/case management to homeless families and individuals from Omaha and surrounding communities. The Siena/Francis House also houses a residential chemical addictions treatment center, a day services center, an employment training program, and a medical clinic. The Siena/Francis House has a policy that tries to never turn away any person or family who comes to them in need, regardless of their circumstances.

In 2011 the Siena/Francis House served 418,107 meals and provided 156,258 nights of shelter to approximately 4,000 homeless men, women and children. In pursuing the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of homelessness – one person at a time – the Siena/Francis House provides a residential addiction recovery program, aptly named “Miracles Treatment Center”. Any person who desires to participate in the Miracles Treatment Center must be willing to commit to stay at least 120 days in the Siena/Francis House’s residential program, enter its job training program, and provide 40 service hours per week at the shelter.

The Siena/Francis House’s belief is that, by finding value and untapped abilities in people that society has overlooked, they help them find value in themselves. By providing persons in the Miracles Treatment Center with counseling, education, job training, and life and independent living skills, they furnish them the tools that will help them recover from, and successfully manage the problems that brought them to the doors of the Siena/Francis House in the first place. It is through programs like this that people receive a vision for a new future; one that is positive; because without vision people are destroyed.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)

I came across this article of a police officer giving boots to barefoot homeless man in New York. Had it not been for a tourist from Arizona who snapped a picture of this officer’s generous good deed no one may have ever known about it. Although there have been many complaints about the police, (and many might be well founded) I wonder how many of those who complain about the police walked by this poor man oblivious to his condition? It reminds me of the parable Jesus told in  Luke 10:25-37

Photo of police officer giving boots to barefoot man warms hearts online.

A group of advocates for military veterans and high-profile local supporters want to build new temporary housing for homeless veterans. The project is called “Vets Town,” and aspires to provide housing and job training.

There were an estimated 600 homeless veterans in the Omaha area last year. Organizers said that the site could house 54 people immediately and potentially expand to more than 100 residents. The project would provide medical assistance to veterans, along with job training and educational opportunities.

But now, the Omaha World Herald has reported that fractures have appeared in the plan to build the new Omaha housing project for homeless veterans one week after Mayor Jim Suttle joined civic and business leaders at a City Hall press conference to build support for the effort.

Organizers said last week they were in the earliest stages of raising the estimated $3 million needed to construct the facility, when Mike Fornear, national operations manager for the Homeless Veterans Project, and Ed Shada, a local bank executive and head of Project Homeless Connect Omaha, both claimed that they own the name “Vets Town”.

Fornear said he copyrighted the term “Vets Town” last summer for a transitional housing for veterans and turned to Project Homeless Connect Omaha as a potential development partner. Shada said Fornear had no claim to the name “Vets Town” and said his attorneys had filed for use of the name and associated websites.

News of the severed relationship took Suttle’s office by surprise and it was unclear whether other civic leaders would remain involved with the Homeless Veterans Project.

This news was heartbreaking for me since my heart is drawn so much to the homeless community, and especially to those who have sacrificed so much for our country; and now this much needed project will be delayed even more over ownership of the name?

Sadly, this type of scenario plays out all too often within organizations designed to help those in the community. Many times I have witnessed unnecessary competition between different homeless shelters. All of them are committed to helping the homeless community and do a great job of offering a much needed service to the most vulnerable in the community. But I often wonder how much more they could accomplish if they would just work together.

And it’s no different within the church community. I read in the Bible that the early Church worked to bring unity to the Body of Christ. “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32- NLT) But today The Church is divided in heart and mind and share very little of what they have.

Twice I have tried to start a Christian coffee house ministry and both times the local businesses were very supportive of the plan. But in both instances it was the local churches that criticized the plan and worked against it — Possibly out of fear of losing members.

I have even seen divisions within a church body itself! Many church bodies have been split over the color of the carpet in the sanctuary! This should not be! How do churches expect to draw others into the kingdom when there is so much infighting among its members?

These churches and organizations could take a lesson from the seven counties of metro Denver where, despite the increased need in these tough economic times — For the first time in years, have banded together to ensure that people who need shelter will not end up sleeping on the streets. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16900806

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford –