Thursday, January 8, 2009

Integrated Back Into Society

(transfered this post from Homeless in Long Beach)
After thinking about this question, last night, this is an extennded answer: 6. Why is it so difficult for the homeless community to integrate themselves back into mainstream society?

Okay, imagine a guy whose life if before him, graduating high school with plans for his future. On his 18th birthday he receives a notice of draft. He is trained and sent to Vietnam where he has to choose to kill or be killed by a 13 year old boy. Every one's experience in Vietnam was different, depending upon if he joined a Military branch of his choice or was drafted. The young man may have never been outside of the U.S.A or even to a nearby state. His lifestyle becomes one of living in tents or sleeping in dirt trenches; no amenities, like showers and toilets, meals at kitchen tables. The guys drink, smoke, use drugs, cuss when they are not being under strict discipline of their superior officers.

They watch their buddies body parts blown to pieces. Blah, blah, blah. They come home and need to "integrate" back into society. Any youthful dreams and idealism is gone. some of the guys make the transition; others get buy for a while. The drinking continues and many use drugs to forget. Marriages break up, they lose jobs, they become homeless. Living on the streets is a bit like that experience they had in the military, rough living that they became used to.

People have comfort zones. If a child grew up in an abusive family, being abused is their "comfort zone". A Vietnam vet's comfort zone might simply be living on the streets, hanging with the guys, as they were forced to do when they embarked on adult life. The same may be true of long-term homeless people. Living homeless became their comfort zone; it is their normal experience. That might be why some homeless people have trouble integrating back into society.

Many homeless have mental health problems that forever leave them outside the norm of society. Many of those can adapt to a stable homed environment, but integrating with society in general may not be possible.

I have come across dozens of people online and in Long Beach who used to be homeless. They have "integrated back into society". I have a link on the sidebar to a site listing famous people who have experienced homelessness. My memory is not good, so I can not list the names I have found off the top of my head.

Thus my answer to the question is not all homeless people have trouble integrating back into society and my guess is those that can not, either have mental health issues, drug or alcohol problems or can not transition from their comfort zone without dealing with extreme anxiety.

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