Creating Homeless Veterans by Charles E. Corry, Ph.D.


 

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Abstract

It seems self evident that one of the more effective ways to help homeless veterans is to stop making them homeless. And it is clear, at least in El Paso County, Colorado, that the justice system is a leading factor in the creation of homeless veterans.

In essence we are arresting and convicting warriors for acting like warriors. There is nothing to suggest PTSD, TBI, or other injuries or wounds inherent in military service are cured or improved by arresting and incarcerating the veteran. In fact, it is quite evident the reverse is true, and after a few arrests the veteran is unemployable and likely homeless.

It is quite evident we need to fix the problem, not the blame. Some straightforward and easily implementable suggestions are made as to how the justice system might help many wounded warriors rather than arresting and incarcerating them. However, it is clear that we must move away from a law enforcement —> arrest —> incarcerate model for justice and back to a peace officer —> public safety model in order to restore justice and help veterans reintegrate into society rather than tossing them out on to the streets.


 

Introduction

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There is a great deal of concern and assistance for veterans who have had the misfortune to become homeless. However, much less attention seems to be paid to causes of homelessness and I find limited efforts to prevent it.

While there are no doubt many reasons individuals become homeless, in El Paso County, Colorado, homelessness among veterans appears to be closely related to the "justice" system. Having tabulated ~15,000 arrests of ~8,700 veterans here over the past five years, or an average of ~8 veterans arrested every day, I've found that in most cases the reasons for their arrests are plainly associated with the injuries, assaults, and hidden wounds they suffered during their military service.

Available data suggests half of the arrested veterans are, or will become derelicts and there is a clear correlation between veteran arrests and their becoming homeless. I would also suggest that most of those veterans who are arrested but don't become derelicts wisely leave El Paso County as soon as they are able. The arrest data also provides numerous examples of veterans coming back to visit in El Paso County and being arrested again, a clear message that the county isn't a friendly place for warriors.

Warrior norms

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Characteristically, warriors drink, fight, and fornicate; and, of necessity, the use of force and violence is an integral part of their weltanschauung. Yet when they are discharged they are judged by the standards of an old maid's tea party.

A vet comes home and pounds on the walls, breaks things, cusses and hollers and it's domestic violence. Have a few drinks, get in a bar fight and it's assault as well as drunk and disorderly. Try to cop a feel on a date and its sexual assault. Buy a girl some drinks and have sex and it's now rape. Forget to pay and it's shoplifting. And on and on...

I argue that allowances must be made!

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Few veterans have the resources or support to hire competent legal counsel after being arrested so they are facing a stacked deck in the "justice" system. As a result they far too often accept a plea bargain, often simply to get out of jail. That has led to a cycle of "catch, convict, and release" that does nothing for public safety but does boost the district attorney's conviction statistics and supports the illusion he is tough on crime. Unfortunately, having taken on only ~300 cases the local veteran trauma court has had little, if any, impact on this cycle.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), loss of limbs, sexual assaults, accidents, and other trauma incident upon military service that too often bring them to the attention of law enforcement also make it difficult for many veterans to find stable, well-paying jobs. Adding immeasurably to their handicaps a criminal conviction is often the coup de grace to a veteran's employment prospects.

There is little question that unemployment is a major factor in homelessness but a criminal conviction also makes it difficult, if not impossible for veterans to find stable housing. They lose their security clearances and any professional licenses, e.g., teachers certificate. Often they have lost their VA medical and educational benefits as well and are unable to obtain any medical relief or school loans.


 

Fix the problem, not the blame

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I have seen no evidence to suggest that an arrest, incarceration, or conviction controls or cures PTSD, TBI, or other mental or physical disorders. Conversely, it is well documented that interaction with the justice system exacerbates or causes PTSD.

After seeing numerous cases of DV arrests when the woman simply wanted help, multiple DUI arrests within a year, shoplifting where the veteran obviously suffers from TBI and short-term memory loss, child abuse charges filed either maliciously or because a vet with TBI had balance and judgment problems, etc., it is evident that the current legislate —> law enforcement —> arrest model is criminogenic and is simply causing problems, including homelessness.

At some point it should be recognized that public safety is the primary goal of a justice system, not the number of arrests and convictions. Thus, it is imperative that we return to a peace officer —> public safety model. That is particularly critical for disabled veterans.

While the intercession of a peace officer is desirable, and even necessary in many veteran cases, the objective should be to fix the problem not the blame. While incarceration may be necessary for public safety in some cases, the primary goal should be treatment and deterrence.

Under the current law enforcement model all too commonly what I see with a veteran in trouble is that, when called, the police send in a SWAT team and an armored vehicle. Common sense suggests that will inflame the situation. It would often make more sense to send in another veteran with some weed to calm the situation down.


 

Suggestions

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Toward implementing a peace officer model of dealing with distressed veterans and their families while promoting public safety I offer the following suggestions:

Expand the community response teams (CRT) the Colorado Springs police and fire departments have begun. Here, police officer(s) respond to the 911 call. When they determine it is probably a mental health problem, e.g., a disabled veteran, they call in a fire department CRT, which includes an EMT and a social worker experienced with mental health issues. With the situation stabilized the police depart and the CRT take the patient to a hospital or detox facility for treatment if appropriate.

The critical factor is the veteran is not arrested and incarcerated but gets the needed evaluation and treatment to stabilize them without a criminal record. However, presently there are only two community response teams in Colorado Springs and none in the county.

In some cases it is obviously necessary to incarcerate the veteran in order to prevent harm to society or themselves. And many times the veteran is a common criminal. So the first step is triage to sort out, as best as we are able, the common criminals from the wounded warriors.

The current justice system is designed to deal with the common criminals. What is needed is a separate path for veterans whose disabilities have landed them in jail that does not impose the lifelong penalty of a criminal conviction upon them. Colorado has a statute permitting pretrial diversion that seems ideally suited to this purpose in many cases.

• I have been astounded by the many cases of repeat veteran arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol. With the common availability of sophisticated vehicle ignition interlocks the question is why are these not being mandated and installed after the first arrest? If cost for a veteran is an issue, concern for public safety would strongly suggest public or charitable funds be used. And stiff penalties, e.g., six months in jail, should be mandated if the interlock is circumvented and the veteran drives drunk anyway.

Simply making repeat drunk driving a felony will have minimal impact on this important public safety problem.

Typically the best person to deal with a veteran is another veteran. In implementing the veteran treatment court, veteran peer mentors were a basic requirement. However, finding unpaid volunteers for these demanding positions has proven difficult.

Since veteran peer mentors can and should handle many of the minor issues a disabled veteran and their families face it would save a great deal of the current time peace officers spend on these cases and many of the costs of repeated incarcerations. Thus, it would seem to be a cost saving to reimburse veteran peer mentors for their time and expenses.

Keeping the veteran from being arrested, jailed, and probably convicted would also greatly enhance their ability to keep and hold a job, preserving them as productive citizens rather than beggars on the street.

• Experienced veteran peer mentors can often be of assistance to a disabled veteran in getting them to a detox or mental health facility when needed.

As veterans themselves peer mentors are likely to be experienced with the Veterans Administration and how to seek and receive services from that bureaucratic morass.

• Few things lead more immediately to homelessness than allegations of domestic abuse or violence. Unfortunately, badly written laws based on a fallacious ideology have led to innumerable false allegations of these crimes to gain advantage in divorce, child custody cases, as a cover for infidelity, to hide paternity fraud, to enable larceny and theft, for financial gain, or simply for revenge or out of spite.

And those are just the cases I've seen!

Proper investigations would make most such false allegations evident and sanctions against offenders would reduce such behavior. There is also a problem with veterans calling police because of a violent woman but the police arrest the man. That needs corrective training.

Furthering the damage done by current laws is the fact that most women want help with their troubled veteran, not an arrest, and as quickly as possible reconcile with him upon his release. Net result is that many times women don't call 911 in domestic situations, further endangering public safety, as often they really do need help.

This list is not, nor is it intended to be comprehensive. There are many more, and probably better ways we can help disabled veterans to avoid becoming homeless. Ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Many of these suggestions could be, and some are being implemented. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Anything we do that reduces veteran homelessness is well worth the time and effort, as well as being cost effective.


 

Conclusions

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It seems self evident that one of the more effective ways to help homeless veterans is to stop making them homeless. And it is clear, at least in El Paso County, Colorado, that the justice system is a leading factor in the creation of homeless veterans.

In essence warriors are arrested for acting like warriors. As noted, they characteristically drink, fight, and fornicate. Then they are repeatedly sent off to fight in senseless, unwinnable imperial wars with rules of engagement developed by madmen. When they return, all too often broken in mind and body, they automatically become criminals under a plethora of mala prohibita laws passed by neo-Marxist radical feminists and their supporters who were attending old maid's tea parties while warriors were off drinking, fighting, and fornicating.

Veterans have so far tolerated their warrantless arrests, the perjury and lies told about them, the disrespect often shown these "trained killers" by radical feminist attorneys and judges, the jail conditions, being forced to plead guilty to crimes they haven't committed simply to get out of jail, losing their homes and families, having their children taken from them by child "protective" services, the insane waits for treatment and benefits from the Veterans Administration, and the degradation of becoming homeless and welfare cases.

These practices might be endurable if they were clearly shown to work. But what emerges from my study is a long list of failure. Even in simpler cases like drunk driving, where ignition interlocks have proven effective, apparently they are not being required or used as veterans get arrested for one DUI after another and public safety be damned.

Even when criminal behavior is strikingly evident the "catch, convict, and release" model in use fails to provide for public safety. While writing this one veteran was arrested for the tenth time this year. Nine of the ten arrests were for high-level F2 and F3 felonies (F1 is first-degree murder) and the tenth arrest was for an F4 felony (in Colorado felonies are classed F1 through F6). That case is by no means an exception.

With cases of "domestic violence" what stands out are men and women desperately trying to keep their families and children together despite the hidden wounds of war and in the face of monstrous bureaucracies hell bent on destroying them in the name of a false ideology. Or, conversely, women using the draconian DV laws, with their virtually complete lack of due process, for their personal gain or for vengeance against a veteran.

Thus, there is little or no evidence that the current procedure of "catch, convict, and release" does anything but make the district attorney appear to be tough on crime and add to his record for convictions. In addition there appears to be strong movement among at least feminist prosecutors to disarm veterans.

Damn the veteran now freezing in the streets because of these monstrous practices!

But such injustices will not forever be tolerated! Thermite, C-4, nitroglycerin, dynamite, Molotov cocktails, etc. are easy and cheap to make and many of these veterans are experts with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They are also commonly skilled marksmen with all the necessary military training and organizational skills needed to reply to continued injustice. And what better place to recruit and organize than in the county jail?

A number of suggestions for reform have been tabulated above. Probably the easiest to begin with is a simple switch of police from the current law enforcement -> arrest -> convict regime to a peace officer -> public safety model that provides support and help to troubled veterans when called upon rather than an arrest and life-destroying criminal conviction.

The present dysfunctional justice system will continue unless and until everyone views police as peace officers they can call upon to serve and protect in troubled times. Clearly the present system serves only to make attorneys and their cronies rich and transfer power and control to the State, to the detriment of the individual freedoms veterans put their lives on the line for.

Another valuable reform would be to end the dogmatic inclusion of a charge of child abuse every time the police respond to a domestic disturbance and find the couple have been fighting while the children were at home. And mandatory arrests without a warrant must cease if we are to return to being a nation where the rule of law exists.

In tracking veteran arrests time after time they have been rearrested for basically the same crimes, e.g., domestic violence, DUI. The legislative response has been to impose ever more severe penalties for these crimes, a fool's errand when the underlying problems are mental disorders. We need to fix the problems, not the blame as outlined in the suggestions above.

Unfortunately, the issues of some veterans will be beyond local capabilities and some cutoff points must be established. There is simply no point in arresting and rearresting, nineteen times in five years in one case I know of, or endlessly attempting to intervene with a troubled veteran who is simply incapable of independent living in society. While some of these men and women are quite happy as vagabonds, in other cases public safety demands long-term care be found. But in the United States long-term psychiatric hospitals have largely disappeared and jails have taken their place, a sad commentary on a wealthy nation and the Veterans Administration.

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|| Courts, Veteran Courts, And Civil Liberties | Contents | Index |

 

| Chapter 4 — Veteran Courts |

| Back — Preliminary Investigation of Veteran Deaths In El Paso County, Colorado by Charles E. Corry, Ph.D. |


 

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Added December 26, 2015

Last modified 1/11/16