BBC Reporter Profiles LA’s Homeless Veterans

The scariest statistic in BBC correspondent Peter Bowes’ Radio 4 report about LA’s homeless veterans is not so much the estimate that there are close to 8,000 such fallen soldiers currently living on the streets. It’s that the size of this contingent is expected to grow as the U.S. pulls back forces from Afghanistan.

Among those Bowes talked to for his July 3 dispatch were Megan Jardine, a very cogent sounding 23-year-old former combat medic, and an older gentleman with an even more discordant military background:

Rob Campbell says he once operated top secret computer systems for the U.S. military. He now camps down for the night in a doorway, his hair matted, his fingernails grimy, alert for trouble.

“You’re down here because you’re either a drug addict, you’re incompetent, you’ve lost your job or you had some legal issues,” says Campbell, who served for two years in the U.S. Air Force.

An attorney with the Inner City Law Center tells Bowes about a vicious circle contributing to the one-in-five-homeless-is-a-veteran epidemic: because these soldiers often found themselves having to resort to drugs while serving, they were dishonorably discharged and thus cut off from a full level of military benefits once home.

[Bowes’ 30-minute report, “Down and Out in the City of Angels,” can be accessed for a limited time in its entirety here]