Sunday, February 10, 2008

How many vets sleep under a bridge?

During the January 7 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann named Fox News host Bill O'Reilly the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for saying that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards "has no clue," as Media Matters for America documented, regarding Edwards' statement that "tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore our uniform proudly and served this country courageously as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates." Olbermann stated: "But our winner -- well, it's Bill-O night. He blasted John Edwards for noting in Iowa that 200,000 vets sleep each night under bridges and on grates. Quoting Bill-O: 'The only thing sleeping under a bridge is that guy's brain. Ten million illegal alien workers are sending billions of dollars back home, and Edwards is running around saying nobody has any money.' " Olbermann continued: "Seriously. First off, Lou Dobbs is going to kick your backside for working his side of the street. Secondly, it's 200,000 tonight. Over the course of the year, the Veterans Administration says, 336,000 vets will be homeless on and off." Olbermann concluded: "Why don't you try changing positions with one of them, Bill? See how long you last, then run your mouth about Edwards. The over/under on that, by the way, would be three minutes. Bill Orally, tonight's 'Worst Person in the World.' "

This morning I met two separate homeless vets who sleep under bridges, so I wrote to "papa bear."

Mr. O'Reilly,

I was on my way to a Penguins game here in Pittsburgh, in the middle of a blizzard, there was a man sitting on some cardboard on the sidewalk holding out a paper drink cup in his hand. He was sober. I knew it would be single digit temperatures tonight, so I game him my change, and warned him that he'd better get some shelter tonight. He told me that they only have about 12 beds left in the shelter, and he can't get in, and in order to get into the Veteran's Administration facility "you have to be practically dead." I asked, "You're a veteran?" He said, "Yes, I'm a Vietnam veteran. I stepped on a land mine." (He pulls up him pant-leg to show the scars) I gave him $5, and I said, "You know that talk-show host Bill O'Reilly? He says you don't exist. That there are no vets sleeping under bridges." He pointed to the Fort Pitt Bridge and he said, "You can go right down there tonight and see them. They gave me some blankets, but it gets cold!"

Later on another man approached me for some change. He was also a Vietnam veteran, who sleeps under the bridge, and that every year, there are more and more new Iraq veterans joining him under the bridge. I talked to a Iraq veteran from the first war begging under an overpass at a Steeler game. I gave him some money, and wished him well.

Be a man, and show them the money as promised Bill, otherwise you will be sleeping under a bridge in your next life.

- Scott

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