USMC Band parades down Pacific Highway; red circles indicate former campsites of homeless vets.
  • USMC Band parades down Pacific Highway; red circles indicate former campsites of homeless vets.
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The 2013 San Diego Veteran's Day Parade went off without a hitch, thanks in part to redoubled efforts from the San Diego Police Department to clear the parade route of homeless veterans.

"Studies have shown that fully 56% of San Diego's homeless served in the military at some point," said parade organizer Ruth Lesslie. "Many of them have substance abuse issues, and many others have psychological issues, and many of those issues stem from trauma related to their time spent in uniform. It's tragic, but it's also extremely ugly and depressing. That's not really what a parade is about. I mean, we have children there, waving flags and expressing their gratitude for the sacrifice that veterans make. Imagine some little girl having to listen to a drunken ex-Marine yelling from the bushes about the time he shot a 15-year-old boy wearing a suicide vest. Or if an eager boy marching alongside the parade should have to step over an unconscious man in an old Army jacket — one sleeve hanging emptily askew. It would be confusing at best."

Lesslie was quick to point out that the homeless vets were not simply "pushed out of the way where people wouldn't have to see them and their representation of the awful toll of war. After rounding them up, we drove them to the old Central Library, and gave them the run of the place." The central branch has been closed ever since the opening of the new Downtown San Diego Library, "but we thought they might enjoy a little time in a familiar setting. Who knows? If the day goes well, we may just let them stay. It's not like anybody else is ever going to need those microfilm magazine archives."

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Comments

shirleyberan Nov. 11, 2013 @ 3:05 p.m.

Insensitive Ruth couldn't let veterans sit there and watch their own parade? Most would have sat quietly. She could let the police handle anything else. I think that was wrong to force them out of the way. People should realize the aftermath of war on our streets. That's what's unacceptable. Bet she has no power to let them stay at the old library. Hope they get food and whatever else they need but I've only seen that happen once a year in summer, the weekend at Stand Down, on the San Diego High School field. I think this woman has the issues. Have a Heart. Bring them a folding chair and a bottle of water or something.

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dwbat Nov. 11, 2013 @ 8:16 p.m.

Note: "SD on the QT: Almost Factual News" is satire. That means it is not real news.

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shirleyberan Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:27 a.m.

I thought Walter was actual factual news writer, now I'll always be suspicious.

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dwbat Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:06 a.m.

There's no reason to be "suspicious" of it. Just read, and enjoy its irony.

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Visduh Nov. 14, 2013 @ 1:13 p.m.

Shirley, I often say that the real news is stranger than these things Mencken turns out. Headlines especially can look SOOO strange, and they are on for-real stories. And some of the things he has come up with actually could happen.

I don't think that all his stuff is hilarious. He's done a few items that I thought were in very poor taste. This one got very close to the edge. I'm a veteran myself. But, as you say, it was something possible, and that's the soul of satire.

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dwbat Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:41 p.m.

Maybe the old Central Library should become a homeless shelter. It's not likely it will be leased by Aeropostale, Nordstrom Rack or Applebee's.

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shirleyberan Nov. 15, 2013 @ 4:14 p.m.

Visduh - my Dad was a Vet of Korea. A few years ago I worked with homeless veterans at what was then Vietnam Veterans of San Diego for a school (addiction) counseling program. I really enjoyed the experience and listened to many stories. PTSD is very real and affects more than reported. I have donated clothes and some summer weekends for Standown. It is a great opportunity for people to get treatment and other services. At the least a shower, haircut, food and a bunk for a weekend. I was there on Pacific Highway when they used the old motel, before it became Veterans Village with some residential apartments, not enough. No one left behind.

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Dave_the_K Nov. 16, 2013 @ 5:27 a.m.

'The Onion' has Competition....nicely done!

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shirleyberan Nov. 16, 2013 @ 12:39 p.m.

viewer - they used to call the San Diego paper the onion cause it was Union - Tribune. I don't care what it is now but respectfully, I think you are not clear on your meaning. What is aboserbsed and who's in old town?

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shirleyberan Nov. 16, 2013 @ 12:43 p.m.

And also viewer - the comment you made about who carries more stuff around when they are on the streets made me try to choose. The veterans can travel without much.

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shirleyberan Nov. 16, 2013 @ 1:27 p.m.

viewer - desperate people do desperate acts. My guess from what my life experiences are so far is that veterans have a tendency to help others but uneducated and drifters take for the their own sake. I think veterans carry much inside, absorbed.

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