By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
On a Thursday morning not long ago, a volunteer named Twyla stands in front of a group of clients at Justa, a day program for homeless seniors, explaining what she's brought from the food bank.
"I hope that those of you who don't have many teeth, that you'll be okay with the salad," she says, adding that she's also brought blueberry pomegranate juice. "And cake for dessert!"
Scott Ritchey rolls his eyes good-naturedly as he passes through the room, where the fluorescent light doesn't do any favors for the dirty linoleum and the worn-out, mismatched couches. For the past three years, this decrepit little building near the Arizona Capitol has been a godsend for about 100 homeless seniors who have nothing to do with their days, after waking up at the nearby shelter.
On any given day, about half the participants are veterans.
There's a special unit reserved for veterans at the shelter, but the waiting list is long, so many vets sleep in a parking lot euphemistically called "the overflow." Justa gives them a mailing address, a place to shower, access to the Internet and phone, lockers to store their belongings.
When Ritchey, a Methodist minister, started the program — which operates on about $260,000 a year, all private donations — one of the first things he did was call the local office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to get some help for the vets.
It took a year for anyone to show up. And in three years, Ritchey says, the VA has yet to place a single Justa Center vet in housing. There are programs in town that offer housing for veterans, but they've got to prove they're employed.
"You're 82 years old. You don't need to work," Ritchey says.
Almost all his clients have diabetes; many have dementia. Add untreated depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and you have a bad situation, particularly when you have to battle the VA's bureaucracy. Ritchey regularly finds vets napping on the floor by the Coke machine; the sleeping area is too dark and claustrophobic, they tell him.
He recalls one client who needed open-heart surgery. The VA scheduled a doctor's appointment in Tucson, two hours away, and advised the homeless man to rent a car to drive down and spend the night in a hotel. Ritchey intervened and got the man to Tucson; he hasn't heard from him since.
Ritchey's careful not to place direct blame on the VA, which he describes as "underfunded, understaffed, and overwhelmed," but he's clearly frustrated.
Michole Felder, a job counselor at Justa, isn't as careful. He looks over at Ritchey and asks, "Can I be honest?" Ritchey nods.
"The VA doesn't do shit," Felder says. In three years, he doesn't know of a vet who's gotten a job placement through the agency.
Bobby Collins, 59, is a homeless Vietnam vet who shows up at Justa from time to time. He's been waiting for a benefits check from the VA for eight months. Collins was shot in the throat in Vietnam, and his leg is full of shrapnel. He's got two Purple Hearts, but he didn't claim his medical benefits for years — he didn't need to; he had steady jobs as a welder and a carpenter. Then, last Thanksgiving, he came to Phoenix and couldn't find work, and quickly found himself homeless. Now he needs the money.
The people at the VA are very nice, Collins says, but the bureaucracy is impossible. They've told him he'll get his money. He doesn't understand why it's taking so long.
Collins says he's working hard to not be bitter, but when he arrived in Phoenix and saw what few services there were for him as a veteran, he was mad at John McCain.
"I have a lot of respect for Senator McCain as a war hero," he says, but "I would never vote for a veteran who lets veterans in his state be treated this way."
In the last few minutes of the first presidential debate, on September 26, John McCain made a statement that probably blew past most economy-obsessed Americans but stopped a lot of military veterans short.
Barack Obama had just remarked that he's approached all the time by Iraq War veterans who say they can't get help for post-traumatic stress disorder from the overwhelmed veterans administration, something Obama vows to improve. When it was his turn to reply, McCain seemed incensed that Obama would dare intrude on McCain's turf as, perhaps, America's most famous injured war vet.
"I know the veterans and I know them well," he said, his voice shaky with emotion. "And I know that they know that I'll take care of them. And I've been proud of their support and of their recognition of my service to the veterans. And I love them, and I'll take care of them. And they know that I'll take care of them."
But he hasn't. McCain's had 25 years in Congress to help veterans, yet nearly all he's done is talk about his own experiences as a prisoner of war — and push the country to go to war again.
YES , WE CAN...YES , WE CAN...WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive...thank you lord....aaamen).
What do you mean tragedy! It was just a birthday present for planet apes president !!! That's all ! Feels great to flip hamburgers and hip hop atop of good news...makes you feel vibrant and energized !!!
ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" CASH & $$ FLASH MOB (there was no shooting in Utoya or Arizona, but tear gas and theater instead on faces of multiculturalism maniacs..your guilt or blame and shame weapon against us and our families in our own countries atop of forceful unemployment during so called "ECONOMIC CRISES" during which third world foreigners are allowed to rape, kill, and still is nothing else but fast way to early retirements for government related criminals/ terrorists...$$$ extra bonuses, and newly issued state identities while calling you a terrorists) !!! http://stateofterror.blogspot.... or http://stateofterror.wordpress...
OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.c... or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.... Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ...YESSS, WE CAN...YESSS, WE CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (Obaminator’s psychotic speech in Tucson = failed “Apocalypse Now“)
WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET APES !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !!
EVEN IF IRAQ WOULD HAVE BEEN WAR FOR OIL ONLY, VETERANS WOULDN'T NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE HOMELESS PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE AND NOR WOULD OUR PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE ALLOVER THE PLACE THE WAY THEY DO TO VERY TODAY(never ending “war on terror” story). BECAUSE EVEN IF WAR WAS FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY, MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT WHAT THE CASE IS OR AGAINST WHITES(to destroy us allover the world) !!! You don't really proof for 911, just put your sht together in your heads...THIS IS PLENTY ENOUGH TO HAVE O(B)SAMA INDICTED FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE AMERICAN HUMANITY TOGETHER WITH HIS ZIONIST MASTERS) !!!
Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved USA what is lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS as those best of America or Navy Seals would also grew older and then you already know how it goes...DEAD & ILL = DEBT DEAL !!!
HOW MUCH FURTHER ARE WE WILLING TO GO IN ORDER TO PLEASE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO DENY US EVEN THE RIGHT TO EXISTENCE(what is to you country without laws or lawless country in respect to your personal rights, but the one that in contrast to your denied basic human rights recognizes you extremely liable when payments are due) !!?
IS IT INDEPENDENCE THAT WE CELEBRATE OR DEPENDENCE (what are your credit card bills or alimony saying about it) !!? HOW IS YOUR DIABETES AND LOST MARRIAGES !!? FORECLOSURES AND JOB SEARCH !!? THAT IS THE QUESTION TO BE OR NOT TO BE !!! IS IT LAND OF THE FREE OR STATE OF TERROR AGAINST OWN POPULATION !!? IT IS TIME TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT COLOR ARE THE STRIPES ON OUR STAR SPANGLED BANNER !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who wants to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!! IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHOM WE ADDRESS WITH "PRESIDENT" (STOP HUMILIATING YOURSELF) !!!
DO WE NEED MORE PROOFS TO INDICT OBAMA AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY !!?
1)NO, THEY ARE CLEARLY GUILTY AS OIL WAR NEVER EVER WAS REAL ISSUE IN GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES. REAL ISSUE ARE FACTS OR WHAT WE WITNESS TODAY WHEN VETERANS ARE HOMELESS, JOBLESS, KILLED, ETC.
2)NO, AS 911 ALONE AS WELL AS ACTIONS IMPOSED AGAINST WHITES IN USA (as well worldwide) ARE CLEARLY INDICATING ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY
3)YESS AS JUST YESTERDAY(for over 15 years to very yesterday), WE (news/media = vacuum world of lies) WERE TELLING YOU THAT UNEMPLOYMENT WAS AT 10% WHILE TODAY ONE IS AT 50% (HOW COME NO ONE QUESTION JOURNALISM LIKE THIS OR WHAT IS WORLD OF LIES AND DEMENTIA)!
4)I AGREE WITH FIRST TWO ANSWERS ABOVE. IT IS TIME TO PRESS CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BOTH ADMINISTRATIONS DUE TO ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY FOR THE SAKE(SAFETY) OF US AND OUR CHILDREN(DO NOT TURN THEM IN WHITE REFUGEES ON PLANET APES OR WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WHEN VISITING ABOVE PAGES) !!!
One Q! can New times find out what Senator Mc Cain has done FOR Arizona!??? I have the feeling he has done NOTHING to help AZ!!
This guy is a joke I myself am a 100 percent disabled OIF Veteran, I contacted his office for help in 2005 for help in my case against the Army. The Army was trying to Medically Board me with 10 percent disability and I was unable to return to work with severe PTSD and multiple injuries to include Traumatic Brain Injury, this guy blew me off like I had an STD, I had more help with Jon Kyle... thanks war hero...may u burn in hell.
You are idiots. I'm an Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom Vet and the VA has done alot for me as well as any of the other Vets that I know who were unfortunate enough to have something debilitating happen to them. McCain is one of if not THE biggest advocate for Vets out there. He is fighting for concurrent receipt as well as better quality of care for our Vets. The VA has alot of issues and I'm always aggrivated with them but the VA is not John McCain. Why don't you look to the Democrat controlled house and Nancy Pelosi with your complaints. Or maybe even go to the VA and talk to people who have been using the system before you shoot your ignorant mouths off. Also you may want to actually show evidence of McCain being anti-vet rather than just spew your BS.
Being a total political news junkie I knew about McCain's anti-veteran voting before but finally found the real deal exposed in LA Weekly. I just wish this news were out there big time as John McCain voted against helping veterans for the reason that if they have GI benefits they may choose to go to school instead of re-enlisting to go back to Iraq.
In my opinion, McCain if elected will bring us to World War III.
Veterans who need help need to leave Arizona, by any means possible, and move to a state that has excellent benefits for them. My dad moved back to Kentucky and is milking the vet benefit system. I hate to see him do it because he only spent 2 or 3 years in the service, so I don't think he really "earned" it. But the VA in Louisville apparently doesn't turn anyone away and provides immediate medical & psychiatric help. For veterans who need to be in a nursing home, the Veteran's Home in central KY provides outstanding care, and the waiting list last I checked (5 yrs ago) was only about 5 weeks.
Yea, my husband knows what it is like to ask John McCain for help! Back in 2000 his ex-wife left Arizona with his two daughters, lied said she was going to Fort Polk, Louisiana,when she actually went to Fort Campbell KY... It took us a year to track her down. When we asked John McCain for help we were told "sure no problem" My husband still has not had contact with his two daughters since 2000. Even though he has shared custody. Even though Arizona ruled she was in contempt of court they have done nothing. What is a Man who serves his country in the US ARMY, get wounded and disabled, has PTSD, can't find work, etc. to do? Yea John McCain shafted all of us!
Finally someone's revealing his weakness, that he talks about being a POW but doesn't really help fellow veterans.