invisible homeless kids

Hard to imagine that in this country way over 3 MILLION kids are without homes. H-O-M-E-L-E-S-S Kids. I don't get it. Are we willing to discard these kids? Not me. So this blog will relentlessly focus on this issue, hoping to light a spark to fuel a compassion epidemic. Chime in, argue, but do something....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Caumoflaged Homelessness

With all the talk about PTSD-suffering military veterans, I'd like to take the discussion a step further--to families of beleaguered soldiers. From conversations I've had with military wives, I believe another invisible tragedy is unfolding.

The parent--often, but not always the mom--ends up leaving an abusive spouse-soldier, something the military doesn't talk about much. When mom and kids move out of base housing, leaving a volatile situation, sometimes they end up moving in with friends or family because the mom doesn't have enough income to get a place on her own. Losing housing due to hardship can often be defined as "homeless," even when the family moves in with others, called doubling-up.

One woman at a presentation I did recently came up afterward and thanked me for sharing the info on McKinney-Vento Homeless Education rights. She painfully shared that she's planning to divorce her military husband and, unless she lands a job that can support the family, they too may be homeless.

Now, isn't that a sad state of affairs, as military spouses and children join the ranks of our nation's homeless population because they fear for their safety staying with their PTSD-suffering spouse?

The courageous spokesperson Julianna has shared her similar story
(most recently at a domestic violence rally in AZ) about an abusive spouse in the military, relating the conundrum that military spouses find themselves in when it comes to DV. The military takes care of its own, and that can mean that the mom and kids get tossed to the street.

In Julianna's case, the final split took place after the parents left the military, but she had checked out the so-called safety net while they were on base, and it was too frightening. So she remained in a horrible situation until it hit the tipping point. Her resolve to leave was bolstered when her kids' condition--that they could stay in their same schools--was met thanks to McK-V.

I'd love to hear from people with direct knowledge about military spouses who leave a bad situation and become homeless--moving in with others, into motels, or landing in shelters or on the streets. What's the best way to get information to this population so they at least understand how to get/keep their kids in school?

Seems to me we need to stem the tide of homelessness that threatens the well-being of more and more kids and parents, and single adults. With the military, they have a strong obligation to their troops and their families. Keeping them from homelessness should be at the top of the list.

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