Thoughts at Thanksgiving

Richard McFarthing

Richard McFarthing, a homeless vet living on the streets of Hollywood Boulevard. Copyright Jessica Jewell Lanier.

The rain in Los Angeles today will continue into tomorrow. For here, it’s cold. In most other parts of the country it’s even colder and wetter. Most of us will spend tomorrow in warm, brightly lit places with family and friends, sharing a meal and stories. We’re the lucky ones.

I can’t help thinking about the homeless at times like this, among them many vets—men and women living on the streets, in their cars, in shelters when they can. As you know, many shelters open only at restricted times, and/or limit the number of nights a person can stay. A problem we hear on our Lifeline for Vets is intake times are restricted as well. For example,  if a shelter intakes for the night between 5PM and 6PM, if you’re working until 5:30, you’re out of luck getting a place for the night there.

Which brings me to the range of homeless people in America. Homelessness and mental illness are often linked, as is homelessness and substance abuse. In the case of Veterans, many are suffering from PTSD or MST, military sexual trauma. But many are the working poor, struggling to overcome whatever circumstances plunged them into homelessness. Women and children living in cars, men and women vets caught in the downward spiral of PTSD or a difficult or failed reintegration into civilian society—the problem presents so many different faces.

At this time of year as the holiday season gets into full swing, our crisis hotline experiences a spike in the number of calls. Day and night. It can be a lonely season. We’d love to offer our counselors 24/7. The need is there. Giving Tuesday is this coming Tuesday, December 3rd. On that day, if you donate on the National Veterans Foundation Facebook page, your contribution will be matched. You double your impact.

But there are other ways to give. Support your local efforts to solve homelessness, donate to groups who feed and shelter our homeless population. Participate in a food drive or a clothing drive. Volunteer at a shelter. Offer a smile, a greeting to someone who might be homeless.

Remember, there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Any act of kindness travels outward, touching people, just like gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you know a vet who needs help, here’s our Lifeline for Vets hotline: 888.777.4443

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  1. Don Schroeder on November 27, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Love you Shad thanks for your lifetime of service and help to the vets… Sgt Schro

  2. Rebecca Peterson on November 27, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful reminder. 🙂 Always grateful to our vets and the sacrifices they have made for us.

  3. Scott McCullough on November 27, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    hank you Shad!

    I am working with friends to danate furnature and home goods to the less fortunate. Your words are ALWAYS inspiring and I am thankful for you and Melinda…and the NVF.


  4. John Mendiola on November 28, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Shad,I want you to know I appreciate all you do for all our Veterans especially the least fortunate.

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