Homeless in Portland, Oregon 

Day after day after day, the homeless are  removed from the dinner table.

Everyday, there are less and less chairs  around the dinner table for the poor.

Homelessness has skyrocketed in Portland  in the past 2 years.

There are tents all over the city, and the surrounding areas to include the country side.

Old Town Portland looks like a huge refugee settlement. I deliver lunches to 4 homeless encampments three days a week.  It is like walking into a poverty war zone.  When I drive up to the encampments,  I yell out: ” I got free lunches here.”  Many of the homeless simply crawl out of  their tents or sleeping bags with utter despair  on their faces.

Many of them are asleep on the sidewalks, without any shelters.  Their minds and bodies are broken.  Their immediate surroundings are often littered  with trash.

I see some syringes on the ground.

I see some people dying as a result of cancer, too poor to find a safe place to stay.

I see many people with skin infections.

I see people who could not make it to the  porta-potties.

I would say that 99% of the homeless have PTSD.

There are layers and layers and layers of trauma  in their lives.

I have heard some of their awful stories, as so many of them have been brutalized since childhood.

Here in these trenches, life is not an even playing field, like society would like to inflict upon them that it is.

I have heard the stories of those who spent time in prison, where reform is so dismal, it breeds more anguish.

It is often said that a high percentage of veterans are in prison, and no doubt that is the same for those who are homeless.

For vets who are not physically homeless, they are homeless in the mind.

Many homeless talk to themselves, they strike their fists at imaginary people. They yell at people who are simply not there.

I got free lunches here, I got free lunches….

Oh, thank you so much…

God bless you…

Mike Hastie served as an Army Medic in Vietnam.