The Unsheltered, and Veterans Issues
Let me be clear on the terminology: there is a marked difference between the "homeless" (those without a residence, but who may have the ability to remain sheltered with family, friends, or a charitable shelter or transitional housing) and the "unsheltered" (those living on the street or in empty fields).
While being unsheltered in Denton County is not as large an issue as it seems to be in Dallas or Tarrant Counties, it is still an issue that deserves our attention. Many of those to whom I have personally spoken, or whose stories I have overheard, describe their situations in terms that relate more directly to post-traumatic stress (PTS) than to any other causal event. The list is long and saddening. Landlord evictions after the COVID moratorium expired. Loss of employment due to medical issues that prevented them from receiving the vaccine.
I was unsheltered myself once, a long time ago. Despite the passing of time, the uncertainty and foreboding that I felt then is not something that I would wish on anyone. Homeowners and tenants have not really had a voice in the Texas legislature for many years, and small business owners were already having issues long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it has only become worse. I want to help be their voice in the Texas House.
But the unsheltered also touch on another important topic, at least to me: Veterans' Issues.
Every year, millions of Americans swear an oath "to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" fully knowing that they might be sent overseas to fight, to kill, and possibly to die to protect the interests of the United States. Then, when they return home, they are subjected to the worst health care in this country, and they are treated worse than second-class citizens. As a veteran myself, I have experienced going from being honored by our society as a hero for my acts of service to feeling like a burden on that society because I was "no longer useful". I was lucky because I had help. Some of my fellow veterans have not been so fortunate.
Aside from social organization outposts like the V.F.W. and American Legion, there are very few veterans services within District 57. The only Veterans Administration clinic in the area, the Denton VA Clinic, is only open during business hours on weekdays, so any veteran within our district could potentially need to travel a significant distance (into Plano, Dallas, or Arlington) simply to receive the health care that they have earned, inadequate as it may be. That is unconscionable, and I want to help change that if I can.