The story of a Veteran’s strength, the work of medical-legal partnership, and the need for systems to work together to end homelessness among Veterans. Inner City Law Center’s Jon Killoran writes on their program with West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Hospital.
By Jon Killoran
“Forty-five years after returning from Vietnam, Specialist James Perkins (not his real name) is still fighting for safety, stability and peace. He returned home struggling with mental disabilities that did not yet have names and bearing invisible wounds from a war that no one wanted to talk about. Post traumatic stress rooted in trauma and schizophrenia made it difficult to hold down a job. For most of the past 40 years, he has lived on the streets or in homeless shelters.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has pledged to end veteran homelessness. With 4,363 veterans sleeping on the streets or in shelters every night, Los Angeles County has more homeless veterans than anywhere else in the country. Too many of them, like Perkins, are chronically homeless, living on the streets for years and struggling with severe mental health disabilities.