Friday, March 11, 2016

Daria Novak: Work on Veteran Homelessness Far From Finished

Photo from VeteransInfo.org
By Daria Novak
Posted originally in the Norwich Bulletin

In his Sunday column (“Vet homelessness claims in conflict“), Bulletin Opinion Page Editor Brendan Cox acknowledged he did not attend my Groton press conference on homeless veterans in Connecticut. He also failed to contact me or any of the nonprofit groups represented at the event. If he’d had the whole picture, he might have called out the politicians on their definitive, unconditional statements about “ending” veteran homelessness, as well.

In a Feb. 18 press release put out by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, stated he’s “proud” we are the second state to “officially end veteran homelessness.” This is not a qualified statement. To date, Courtney has not challenged Malloy’s statements about ending homelessness for our servicemen and women. Our congressman has remained silent.
A day later on Twitter, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., added, “Connecticut has eliminated homelessness for #veterans in our state.” This is also a definitive, unconditional statement. There is no room to interpret what he stated.

The Obama administration redefined chronic homelessness to exclude those living outdoors and under bridges for 11 months of the year. Amazingly, Connecticut saw an immediate drop in chronic veteran homeless statistics. The only place they disappeared from is the statistics.

Our elected officials have pushed our veterans into the shadows. Why? Don’t our veterans deserve better?

As someone who has worked with veterans my entire life, who is the daughter of a vet and who married one, I am outraged our politicians put out press releases sweeping our homeless vets under the rug by failing to acknowledge their existence. This leads the general public to believe there is no longer an issue of homelessness affecting our veterans.

Recently I was approached by a homeless vet asking to be heard. I listened to his story; one I have heard too often. If you know me, you know I am not very good at sitting back and accepting blindly what politicians tell me is the truth. So, I did my research and found out the facts directly from those in Connecticut who work with homeless vets.

One nonprofit working to find vets jobs estimated we have more than 1,200 in the state. When I spoke directly with the manager of the South Park Inn in Hartford, he told me that for the last few years, the organization has taken in approximately 150 homeless vets a year.

I am very grateful for the wonderful people who are helping and the progress we are making toward eliminating veteran homelessness in Connecticut, but our work is not close to being done.

When the Obama administration proclaimed and certified CT free of homeless vets, our CT politicians accepted the accolades for the “accomplishment,” and through this shortsightedness they did a disservice by sweeping those vets who remain homeless under the carpet. No one should be afraid to call out our politicians when they deserve it. When I am elected to Congress, I will continue to fight for all our vets until the problems are corrected and beyond.

Daria Novak, a Republican, is running for Congress in Connecticut's 2nd District. 

4 comments:

  1. Well said Daria

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  2. No homeless veterans? Try taking a walk down Main Street or maybe stopping by Dunkin Donuts or St. Vincents and see if you can still claim this to be true. What about the warming shelter at the church every winter. Take a look around and there are quite a few clearly homeless people wearing veterans attire. So are we supposed to just assume that they arent homeless or maybe that they arent really veterans??

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  3. As the homeless veteran mentioned, I support these statements made by Daria. Malloy won't answer me. Neither will Blumenthal or Murphy. They know I call them out for lying. I won't stop until they apologize.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your service and for speaking out, Robert. You're a great American.

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