Let me explain the title of this post before someone gets the wrong idea. There are many possible origins to the word, but during the Civil War, “Tramp” was used as slang for a soldier who marched off to war. Later, the Civil War homeless veterans camped out at our nations capital waiting for their bonus money and the word morphed into what would be considered a vagrant or squatter. Then there were the homeless veterans of WWI, WWII, Vietnam War, Korea…I think I see a trend!
The National Alliance to End Homelessness which is a public education nonprofit group, estimates that 1 in 4 homeless people in the United States is a Veteran. Veterans make up only 11 percent of the general population but 194,254 out of 744,313 homeless persons walking the street at night are veterans (2005 statistics). These numbers are based on information from the Veterans Affairs Department and the Census Bureau. The Veterans Affairs Department also identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and they predict this is only the beginning of the “surge” of homeless veterans from the current wars.
In doing my research on this issue, the root-cause always comes back to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), the two signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What is needed, or a better question is: what is our obligation to our veterans to ensure they don’t end up in the streets? There is a very comprehensive document that was just released by the Veterans For America (VFA). It talks about what I believe is the root-cause of homelessness among our returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. To read VFA’s report “Trends in Treatment of America’s Wounded Warriors” and to download the complete report (PDF file), please click here.
Sam’s medical status:
Wednesday November 7th, 2007: Tomorrow Sam will be given a different type of stimulant. He has been receiving a form of Ritalin but it has been really hard on his digestive system. The last few days, Sam has been trying to move around and keep his eyes open but he’s been having a hard time staying awake, so maybe a change in stimulant is a good idea all around.
Even with Sam’s struggle to stay awake lately, today he scored a 20 on the CRS-R (Coma Recovery Scale-Revised)! He was a 16 on the CRS-R scale the last few weeks. The scale goes from 0 to 23, and at 23 a patient is considered to be out of a “minimally conscious state” (MCS). Once he starts talking he will surely score a 23.
In the same “cognitive function” vein, Erin told me that she was asking Sam some questions sort of out-of-the-blue as opposed to things she’s done in the past that were taught. In one example, Erin asked Sam to stroke his goatee. After thinking about it a few seconds, Sam lifted his arm up to his face and used his index finger and thumb to stroke his chin. When the physical therapist was in the room, Erin asked Sam what the comb was for. At first he didn’t do anything, but after about 30 seconds, he lifted up his head and legs (to help his momentum) and raised the comb up to his head.
Thursday November 8th, 2007: A few weeks ago, I mentioned Sam was going to get Botox treatment in his left arm since it seems to be stiff and curling up a bit. He actually didn’t get the treatment at that time because the hospital didn’t have the correct needles. But, yesterday he did get his Botox treatment. Erin said it should take affect in about 10 days or so.
Sam got his backside debride (debridement) yesterday. If they can get that portion of his body healed enough, they will be able to get him in a wheelchair.
Sam was put on a new stimulant called Amantadine yesterday. He was more awake and responsive than he has been the previous few days. Hopefully this drug won’t be so hard on his digestive system.
New York Times
The Cincinnati Post
The Kansas City Star
Jon Soltz – The Huffington Post