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How can I help a Vietnam vet who is about to become homeless?

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jilln Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:49 PM
Original message
How can I help a Vietnam vet who is about to become homeless?
He's my former neighbor, who lived in the same house with his family for something like 50 years. When his parents died, his other siblings decided to sell the house rather than pay the taxes on it. Little by little they forced him out. By the end he had no water, no electricity, etc.

They sold that house for $170,000 and somehow determined his share was $10,000, when there are only 4 or 5 siblings. He went to live with his sister who suddenly decided he had to move out. He had been helping pay the rent and told me he has $8,000 left.

This man is a really nice guy and always ready to help others, but he's also an alcoholic and unbelievably helpless. He's told me he should be getting disability payments but never figured out how to apply. The VA hospital in our city is so far away it takes him something like 4 hours to get there by bus, so he went once for checkups and never went back to get treated. (I don't know what's wrong with him.)

In addition, although he's not stupid, I've never met anyone less capable of doing everyday things. The other night he came over and showed me his debit card, which he had never used because he didn't know how to activate it. I showed him the sticker on it that explains and activated it for him, but then when we went to the ATM the password he insisted was correct didn't work.

Over the years I've known him I've tried to get him to apply for disability, etc., but he can never do anything right and I can't be there all the time to push him. He just has no understanding at all of how modern society works. For example, when he moved away he put his money in a bank, then when he and his sister moved again he thought he had to close that bank account and put it in a bank closer to his house. It's amazing the stuff he DOESN'T know.

He's looking for an apartment right now which will cost him probably $500 a month, so basically all the money he has for the rest of his life will be gone within the year. He says he'll look for a job and he has experience in printing, auto mechanics and warehouse, but I imagine that at this point the alcoholism will keep him from being employed for long.

Are there advocates or some group that can help him and keep on top of his stuff?
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. what city and state are you in?n/t
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jilln Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. Dallas, TX
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:20 PM
Response to Reply #7
13. maybe contact these folks?
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Nickster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:54 PM
Response to Original message
2. Check out these links, apps for VA benefits, help him fill these out.
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Sapere aude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:55 PM
Response to Original message
3. If he is an alcoholic he as to hit bottom before you can help him.
If he is anywhere near Bakersfield, CA PM me.
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Dora Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I beg to differ.
If he is an alcoholic, he has to hit bottom before he will end his alcoholism.

Help should be available to everyone, regardless of whether they have hit bottom or not.
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Sapere aude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. Fine differ ( a recovering alcoholic , x-homeless, Vietnam Vet here)
Edited on Fri Dec-15-06 01:28 PM by Sapere aude
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Dora Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. So we're both expert in our own way
:)

I just believe that sometimes the best help is that which is given without expectations.
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Dora Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:55 PM
Response to Original message
4. Does St. Vincent de Paul work in your region?
My husband worked for SVdP for many years in Phoenix, and there they had a strong homeless outreach facility. They worked at finding employment for those who wanted it, and aided in transitional housing. Oh, and meals, dental, showers, barber...

SVdP's services vary from area to area.

Federal Disability can be applied for online or over the phone. Visit the Social Security website for more info: http://www.socialsecurity.gov /. Perhaps this is a process you could help him with.

Good luck. I'm glad this man has you there to help him find advocates.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
6. I have no answers, but here's a link to the Veterans forum where
you also might want to post for more feedback. And it's wonderful of you to try to help your neighbor.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:00 PM
Response to Original message
8. I'd call the DAV. They have a large contingent of Vietnam vets
Edited on Fri Dec-15-06 01:00 PM by Warpy
who might be able to counsel this guy better than you can.

The VA is one of those institutions that has been stiffed by every GOP administration that came after Nixon, and most of them have been GOP. It's incredibly threadbare and would be unlikely to get involved via a third party.

It sounds like this guy was functional at some point in his life, so I'd suspect he's got a lot of central nervous system damage from alcohol. He seems like he doesn't know how to do things because he FORGETS them. He tries to cover and ends up looking retarded.

What he needs is an address, something he has enough money to get. All he needs is a studio apartment, someplace to get his mail. Then he needs a buddy to help him go through the application for SDI. That's where the DAV might be able to help. When he's turned down, a buddy needs to help him hire a disability lawyer. Those guys work on contingency and will take much of the back payment he gets, but he'll get enough to survive on.

He's probably not going to get clean and sober. A great deal of damage has already been done by alcohol and he may be one of the people it kills. The best you can hope for at this point is allowing him to die with a roof over his head instead of forgotten and in some filthy alley.
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:05 PM
Response to Original message
9. You should have a Vet group
Most towns do, no matter how small. They will know the system in your region or state. After that, I would look for an agency or nonprofit that works specifically with the homeless. He is likely to do better if he has a home, but he will need the kind of hand-holding assistance that only those who work with the chronic homeless tend to understand. He has to go through the 4 hour trips and all the rest, and it'll probably take somebody who can keep after him in order to get it done.

I've heard of some places that manage SSI checks and other money for alcoholics and/or the disabled. Be very very very careful because some of them have turned out to be frauds.

A good friend could definitely make all the difference for him, but at the same time there are things that he has to show up for.
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UTUSN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:08 PM
Response to Original message
10. The disability application form can be downloaded from the VA site
Edited on Fri Dec-15-06 01:12 PM by UTUSN
and mailed to the Regional VA office in your area. Basic things get attached to it, copy of the DD 214, statement of the vet describing his disability and how it relates to military service in Vietnam. If he's got something like diabetes, and his records show (90 days? 180 days?) ON THE GROUND in Vietnam (although now Navy ships too?), it's an automatic (presumptive) approval for the diabetes (Agent Orage). A copy of ALL scraps of medical records from civilian doctors or anywhere.

The gaps need to be filled in through the vet's statement, since civilian doctors might not be attuned to connecting the medical conditions they are looking at with military service. Write/type on one side of the page only, with the name, Social Security #, DOB at the top of each page. When they first respond, there will be a VA file/claim #, so from then on put THAT name and number on every page of new responses.

For somebody like this fellow, who might seem to be fairly easy to prove, he might be approved in, like, six months.

List EVERY medical and psychological condition, whether it is documented in the existant medical records or not----------diabetes, heart, hypertension, alcoholism, chemical abuse, tinnitus, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome-----EVERYTHING. If they need further proof of the conditons they will schedule him for exams with their contracted doctors. Be specific in the vet's statement, what combat conditions he experienced, what blood and death and wounds he experienced.

Here's the PROBLEM: It is of the UTMOST importance to FOLLOW THROUGH, to keep EVERY appointment, to respond to EVERY request the VA makes. They can deny everything for failure to respond. With a fellow like this, it is very possible he won't follow through.

If he gets approved, there will be percentages attached to his disability-----anything ranging from ZERO (no cash) to 100% (something like $2400 per month). If he gets approved for VA, he then turns around and applies for SSDI from Social Security, which adds on a goodly amount.

There will also likely be a lump sum going back to the (date of application?). Your friend's problems with his family are significant, but he needs to focus on his own solution instead of on them. Actually, the family problems relate to his psychological problems deriving from his military service.

He should DO THIS (applicatioN)first. If/when he gets his goodly, unstoppable income, he can BUY so that he will never be homeless again. Of course, it's no guarantee, since the psychological problems (without treatment) often lead to continued, "unnecessary" suffering.
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:11 PM
Response to Original message
11. HUDVet State and Local Resources
Edited on Fri Dec-15-06 01:13 PM by bigtree
huge list of federal and state resources (addresses and phone numbers)

for Texas:

http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/about/hudvet/state/tx/in...



from my site: http://www.returningsoldiers.us/housing.htm
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jilln Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:21 PM
Response to Original message
14. THANKS EVERYONE for your suggestions
I'll read everything and make this my after-Christmas project.
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applegrove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 08:35 PM
Response to Original message
16. Find a good social worker. See a doctor. If he quits the drink..they
will be much more likely to push through the red tape. But really..as a vet..he should have access to a great big Veterans affairs person. They must have an advocacy group ..perhaps if you searched the internet you could find people who could send you in the right direction?

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