Archive for November, 2012

20 years later! Discharge anniversary. A small look back!

November 28, 2012

Come this December 14th, I’ll celebrate 20 years since my discharge from the United States Navy.  However, I have nothing really to celebrate other than more freedom (though several of those freedoms are being challenged by our current congressional leaders), more police harassment, and politicians who refuse to find jobs for and help those veterans that protect their rights.  Of course, I can believe this since there are only 103 people in the upcoming Congress who are veterans themselves.  That’s not even 25% of our congressional leaders are veterans.

Before I give you my opinion on that, let me give you a brief synopsis of my life since I left the military.  Well maybe not so brief, but it will be enlightening to say the least.  Let me add that before I entered the military, I had some if not much college education.

Ok, I was discharged in December 14, 1992 and I remained in San Diego for approximately four months living in what some would call a studio apartment.  At the time rent was $425/month in San Diego and that was behind the San Diego airport.  Living anywhere near the beach or in a decent neighborhood was cost prohibitive.  What sucked was, I was attempting to do this on a security officer’s (as most call them “rent-a-pigs”) salary.  No easy task back then.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.

In May of 1993, after already filing my Veteran’s administration claim, I had to leave California due to monetary reasons.  So off I went back to my home state of Michigan only to find no work for almost three months.  Then it was back to the recreational vehicle industry (manufacturing).  That move cost me almost everything I owned and eventually cost me the pickup truck I was driving at the time.  Then my transportation became a bicycle.  Probably a good thing too.

Between 1993 and 1998 I stayed as actively employed as I could.  Even in the rust belt it wasn’t easy at the time.  While I was in Michigan I got to visit with my uncle who is now deceased.  He was the only non-family member of Florida Technical College Dean’s.  This college was set up by Ronald Reagen’s ex-Education Secretary with multiple locations all over Florida.  He offered to help me further my education in the field of my choice.  It would be later that I’d decide to take him up on his offer.

Out a job and in financial trouble (about to be evicted from my rental mobile home and forced to call the bank and return a truck I bought just less than a year ago), I took the last $1500 I earned spending it on a reasonable bicycle and what I thought might be appropriate to travel around 2000 miles with.  I left in June of 1998 headed to Florida to see my uncle who made me the offer.  Needless to say, I had little or no knowledge then what I was letting myself in for not to mention I became homeless for the first of many times to come.

Trip to Florida

Now this was the most interesting or harrowing trip/vacation I ever made.  It was also a vast eye opener as to what was going on in the country most people don’t see and our politicians try to hide.  It took me one full month (21 actual riding days) to roll from Three Rivers, Michigan to Winter Haven, Florida.  I traversed Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in my travels.

While many only see what they view from the interstate highways and tollways, I got to see America up close and personal as bicycles are not allowed on those roads.  Most of my travels were on two lane highways (some four lanes).  What I saw was that there were only a certain few people who used what they earned properly (i.e. good home and functional automobile).  One such case I witnessed, a man owning a mobile home with no less than five automobiles in the driveway (one of which was a BMW sport sedan).  Now all of those vehicles may or may not have been his and some or all could have been non-functional.  However, no person should put an automobile of that expense over a home.

The vast majority of what I saw on my trip was shocking.  Most people in the areas I traveled lived in modest homes and had modest cars.  Many were living paycheck to paycheck to keep what they had.  They WEREN’T competing with the Jones.  Only a small percentage of people had any true wealth (i.e. luxurious home, extravagant automobiles, mobile homes, boats, and other luxuries by my standards).  All this got me thinking of who pays the most taxes.  Come to find out it’s not those with the luxuries.  It’s the ones barely making ends meet.

Sure there may be more of us who barely make ends meet.  However, the ones that can barely make ends meet are those who are most likely to become homeless and also those most likely to be imprisoned because of trying to stay alive while those that rob other people blind (i.e. white collar criminals) generally get of with little or no punishment.
As they say “The best law money can buy.”  Basically stating, if you have money you can buy the law/lawyers.

Needless to say, this trip opened my eyes up more than my time in the military or advertisements for aid to the hungry and homeless in Africa.  I saw both homelessness and hunger right here in America and am still witnessing it growing by the day in Columbia, South Carolina.  All this because of a small percentage of greedy people whom DON’T want to pay any taxes whatsoever.  It’s this, petty jealousy, religion, and the fight over resources that cause wars both civil and otherwise.

Jacksonville, Florida

After making it to Winter Haven, Florida and getting to talk with my grandmother for a week, I was picked up and relocated to Jacksonville, Florida where my uncle was opening up another branch of Florida Technical College.  It would soon be my new school since I told my uncle of my decision on his offer of further education albeit two years later.  It’s also where I took up residence with my aunt and uncle while I attended school before they were transferred south.

Once my time at Florida Technical College ended, I moved out from my aunt and uncle’s apartment.  I held a studio in Jacksonville for just a short bit before becoming homeless yet again.  Eventually, I got back to work for a day labor place and moved from there to full time work.  It didn’t last.  I ended up back on the street in 2000 without a home, a job, or any unemployment benefits per say.  It was at that time, I decided on a location change as there was nothing in Jacksonville.

Thinking with the little head!

In 2000, I met a lady online whom I fell for rather hard.  Thinking with my little head,  I decided to move to South Carolina.  Alas, she moved to Texas and I was stuck again.  I ended up in Columbia and remain to this day.  Still homeless (I was living out of a cheap used car I was driving at the time), I started working day labor again in an attempt to get back off the street and into something a little more permanent.

In the last twelve years, I’ve been on and off the street time and time again.  Each time it gets harder to get up and off the street.  Coming up on my 53rd birthday, I wonder if I’ll make it up this time.  Will I be stuck on the street while awaiting my Veteran’s Association claim to be denied yet again?  Will I finally be driven beyond the brink and do what I thought of doing last when I was 15?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

At this point, I can no longer do the physical labor I once did and Information Technology jobs in this state are far and few in between.  All I can hope for now is the resolution of my VA claim and my disability payment goes above 50% so I can at least find myself off the street.  From there I can at least run a part time business fixing computers from my home to supplement my disability pay.  Perhaps eventually, I’ll be able to garner the other certifications that will allow me to return to the work force in a much better job.

With all this on my plate, I’ll leave you with something about my next post.  It will be entitled Why do they do this? Police brutality!

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Interesting development! Healthcare, what a joke!

November 19, 2012

It appears to me that the social elite are at it again.  I just got an email from Credo about the CEO of Macy’s calling for the end to Medicaid, Medicare, and any form of welfare including Social Security.  Rather interesting since a lot of people in the social elite draw Social Security even though they DON’T contribute any money into it.  That’s correct.  The social elite (CEO’s and others making over $1 Million a year DON’T contribute anything to the Social Security system).
What this idiot doesn’t seem to take into account is without Medicaid or Medicare, over 45% of us could not afford medical costs thanks to the people like him who control the medical system (FDA and pharmaceutical companies who actually run the FDA).  Yes, you heard right.  The FDA is not controlled by the federal government.  The medical fields have very little or NO control by the federal government.  Thus we pay not once but twice for the development of new drugs.  It’s also the reason we pay more for those drugs than any other country.

Don’t get me wrong.  The original idea of the FDA was good.  Problem is we’re back to the pharmaceutical companies peddling snake oils instead of looking for cures like they once did.  For instance, there has yet to be a cured disease since Polio back in the 1930’s.  What’s with this?  Where are all the research dollars that the FDA pumps into the pharmaceutical companies going (taxpayer dollars)?  Certainly not for cures.  All the pharmaceutical companies want are treatments where they can charge over and over and over again.

Let me bring out another point as well.  With the growing number of people in the U.S. becoming homeless, the system is getting inundated because these people have no other means of getting any kind of healthcare.  Most homeless aren’t even getting first rate care.  They have to go to “FREE” clinics that are vastly understaffed and don’t have access to even rudimentary drugs to help a patient with a common cold let alone something more drastic.  The quality of healthcare for the homeless is even worse than it is for a fix income social security recipient.  Even my grandmother who died at 91 years of age (yes she lived on social security till her death) got better care than a homeless person does.

Now this is where I have it better than the average homeless person.  At least I get FREE medical care because of being a veteran.  How good is it?  Frankly it’s probably as bad if not worse in some cases than the healthcare under Medicare/Medicaid.  Often times I have to resort to the ER to get immediate care and even that takes hours.  Heaven forbid I try getting care from my primary physician which is a nurse/practitioner instead of a real doctor.  If I go the later route, I’m often waiting days, and sometimes weeks to be seen.  Pretty sad for care for those that made the sacrifice to serve their country.

Of course, it doesn’t end here.  Now the government and their corporate masters having me pay a copay for any and ALL medications I’m prescribed whether I pick up the prescription or not.  I was forced to go down to V.A. hospital to straighten these fools out for billing me for medication I never received (the prescriptions were for medication I couldn’t take due to allergies that have been noted in my medical record since 1982).  That’s right, the doctor didn’t even ask me about allergies or anything before prescribing me the pain killers.  I had to flag the pharmacy to make sure my record stated I couldn’t take those medications.  Talking about malpractice waiting to happen.

You be the judge.  Look at the current state of your medical care.  And don’t think you CAN’T be dropped for pre-existing conditions.  It’s a well known fact that the insurance industry DOESN’T like to pay out on anything.  How do you think those companies have such high profits year after year.

One other well known facts of medical issues and being homeless.  The diet they feed the homeless (me included) is worse than the diet that is fed to most school children in ANY school system.  Most of what I eat is starches,  fat, fiber, and sugars.  It’s no wonder many of the South Carolina homeless are diabetic.  Of course, many of those don’t pay attention to their health to begin with further hampering a broken system.  It’s just another vicious circle.

Cold weather and winter!

November 9, 2012

Ok, I’ve already expressed my thoughts on the local shelters.  I may make mention to one or two while discussing this topic as it’s a great concern for all homeless people.

During this time of year it’s important to think about weather and shelter.  Most importantly, the homeless should be considering finding a form of shelter from nature’s nasty cold weather.  Unlike up north where temperatures dip down below zero and staying outdoors is basically a poor idea, here in South Carolina one can actually avoid the shelters if one desires.  They must be prepared though.

For the last four years I’ve been on the street.  This is my second year totally away from the shelters.  Yes, I’m still sleeping outside even though current low temperatures have plummeted to around freezing (32F).  I’ve been in and seen as low as 17 degrees here and slept outside.  However, temperature isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when being outside.  You have to also worry about two other things in particular.

The greatest of these is wind chill factor.  I’m not certain who all that reads this has been in the “Windy City” (Chicago) where the average wind velocity is around 15 to 20 knots most of the time.  However, if you’ve been to Chicago, you know what I mean about wind chill.

Here in Columbia we can and sometimes do get wind chills of -5 degrees.  This isn’t much,  but when you are dealing with other issues (namely arthritis)  it can be a bit much.  In this case you’d want at least a good nylon outer material jacket or coat.  This is of course day wear.

At night when not in any kind of shelter, you want at bare minimum a tarp to keep the elements from getting to you.  Better still, you’d want a tent.  Here in S.C., a three season tent will work even in the dead of winter.  Alas, tents get you noticed when trying to avoid getting ticketed for “urban camping.”  A good heavy camouflaged tarp would be easier and much better as you can carry it with you, pitch and tear down faster, and  more durable than most tents.

The best recommendation I can make and also best point is, if you are NOT prepared for being outside in the cold by layering clothing DON’T go outside.  Find some way to stay indoors.  For those without a sleeping bag (rated 30 degrees or colder) again, DON’T stay outside.  This is a bare minimum after November 1st.  Tarpaulins or tents are REQUIRED if you stay outside in inclement weather after November 1st (unless you have a place under cover).  Lastly, if you don’t have the prerequisite equipment just listed, GET YOUR ASS INTO A SHELTER (OGM, Transitions, or city shelter).