Despite the feel like temperature of -12 degrees, a 26 year old Army veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq spent 30 minutes with me reviewing the medical needs of his fellow homeless. Together we treated the immediate health issues of everyone around and distributed first aid items as needed.
He goes by the name of Blue and he has been homeless for three years. He was honorably discharged after recovering from an I.E.D. attach that disfigured his left hand and arm. He freely admits that he’s homeless by choice as result of self medicating his PTSD with alcohol and heroine.
I’ve known Blue for over a year now and he is clearly deteriorating rapidly. I’ll be supprised if he doesn’t lose his hand in the next couple of weeks as it’s infection has swelled the fingers beyond use and one can smell the dead flesh that remains.
He’s clearly someone battling his demons in full view of the world, but who is also often invisible to the same people he was sworn to protect while overseas. It’s tragic, sad and maddening to see Blue realize that he’s continuing to fall but have no current ability to stop that bearing.
I hope he sees value in himself when being treated with dignity and compassion through our interactions. The people who are on the brink of death, but yet have the potential to succeed; are the most tragic homeless that I encounter.
And that dignity comes in large part from everyone’s encouraging words, supply and financial donations. Thank you so much JeanGrys, Jennifer OberleSchaltz, Monica GarmanArseneau, Ericka GodbeyFannon, ChadArseneau, Danell Culkin, Allen Estes, Jon Hill, Amy Orrick Hasty, Jacob Fraser, GillyFealy, Jason Torres, Ian Goldberg, Peggy Goldberg, GurneetSagger, Jason Patera and everyone else that’s contributed.