Monday, April 23, 2007

Perspective: Vets are home and homeless

Left: A 24 year-old single mother who became homeless on her return from Iraq.

Three years ago, when he returned from Iraq and a stint in the U.S. Army, Herold Noel thought he'd be treated as a hero. Instead, he faced a series of degradations, including learning he was ineligible for public-housing assistance.

That's when Noel went back to the red Jeep that had become his home at night. That's when Noel -- fueled by alcohol -- took out a gun. That's when Noel fired the bullet intended to pierce his skull and kill himself instantly.

Noel misfired, then passed out. When he woke up, he realized what had happened.

"I was fed up with this situation," he says now, speaking on the phone from New York about the housing setbacks, job rejections and other stresses that pushed him to attempt suicide. "I just felt like I'd rather die on my feet than on my knees. This country was putting me on my knees. I said I'd rather die with a little bit of pride, because they stripped me away from all that."

Read the rest at the SF Chronicle