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Homeless Veteran
by Mark Kirkmeyer - June 13, 2013

2008 - I was a homeless veteran living on the streets of San Diego and now I am a homeless veteran living in a Motel in Canon City, Colorado. There are many of us and it is not because we want to be there. Most of us have psychiatric problems and when we went to the VA for help we were either turned away or treated badly.

My personal story with the VA started back in 1988 when I was discharged from the Army. I had knee pain for almost my entire 4 year enlistment and received medication, physical therapy, and had surgery while in service; the VA told me they had no record of my knee problem while in service until I told them that I had a complete copy of my medical records for them. They still would not service connect me for my knee problem and they prescribed Ibuprofen for my pain. I had to fight to get an appointment once a year to get a renewal on my prescription and finally gave up on the VA.

At the time I was still in the reserves (reserves have no medical except when on federal service). I bought my own Ibuprofen for my pain. My reserve unit was activated and deployed to the Persian Gulf for Desert Storm. While there I injured my back (or rather did something so the pain was noticeable in my back, my Chiropractor said my problem was always in my back). I reported the problem In Country and was treated In Country. I also reported it at my discharge physical, on Fort Ord, as I could not stand up straight. After reporting it to the VA, there answer to this day is we have no record of this injury in service.

A year later my reserve unit was deployed to Los Angeles for Riot Suppression Duty. I had grown up in South Central Los Angeles and was now doing military combat patrols on the streets that I played on as a child. This was the last stressor that caused a psychiatric response. I didn't report this to the VA until I rolled my pick-up at estimated speeds greater than 100 mph off I10 in the Mohave Desert. I was taken to the VA after the College Student Health Department diagnosed me with PTSD. The doctor at the VA told me “you don't fit into my grant program.”

After I was discharged, I grabbed my sleeping bag and poncho and dropped out. I lived on a freeway embankment under a poncho hooch until the city police ran me off and confiscated my sleeping bag and poncho. For a year I slept anywhere I could until my mother found me. She got me started returning to society.

To this day I am still fighting with the VA about my disabilities and will probably never be recognized for more than the knee injury by the VA. I am drawing SSD that is how I pay for my Motel Room.

Story by Mark Kirkmeyer
Copyright 2008

About Author... Mark Kirkmeyer served as a Light Weapons/Medical Specialist in the U.S. Army (1983-88), the U.S. Army Reserve (1988-1992), and the California National Guard (1992-1995). He is Gulf War Veteran (1991) and served in Korea (1986-87).

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