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U.S. Military Recruiters & The Homeless

Teeth Whitening 4 You
U.S. Military Recruiters & The Homeless: 
What would happen if a homeless person walked into a military recruiters office and told them that they wanted to join the military to have a job and better life?
By David Cyr

I have a perfect answer for you. I was a Recruiter in Yonkers, NY. My recruiting center at the time was right next to a homeless shelter. One day, walking into my recruiting office, I see a young man, a bit overweight, who was waiting for the shelter to began serving its evening meal. We began talking, and he asked about enlisting in the Army. He stopped what he was doing and I sat him down for an interview to see if he otherwise qualifies. He was a bit overweight as I already said so we addressed that and put him on a diet for a couple weeks. He met all other qualifications and scored well on the ASVAB. Within a month he had enlisted for a very good job, that transferred well into the civilian sector and also received a hefty signing bonus. Last I heard he had completed Basic Combat Training and his job training and was well on his way to a successful career as a Soldier.


By Thomas Mangine

I can tell you what happened one time that happened. The man grew up homeless, still managed to graduate high school. He enlisted right after high school, went to Fort Knox for Basic Training, D-19-4, graduated, went to Fort Sam, did college courses while he served, got his bachelor degree, then a master’s. He was accepted to medical school, became a doctor, retired 6 years ago with 30 years service, LTC rank. Went into private practice.



By Mark Smith

Your question is best answered by me. I was homeless when I walked into the Glendale, AZ Navy recruiter office in April 1994, had been living out of my car for 8 months. I was able to acquire the necessary paperwork, and left for Navy boot camp 3 weeks later. 20 years and 5 separate commands after that, I retired at 20.

My recruiter went to a lot of trouble to get me in. He let me sleep in the recruiting office one night (most definitely a big no no, I’m sure ,) and let me take a shower at his private residence. I still have his business card. IC1 Luis A. Rivera SW/AW, if you read this, thank you.


by Squall Leonhart

That’s what I did. Went into his office when I was homeless. Didn’t have identity paperwork or anything that wasn’t carried on my back. After MEPS paperwork (including drug test) he put me up in a hotel and gave me a stack of free meal coupons and grocery store gift cards to last for the 7 or 10 days before I “shipped”. For that week I ate better than I had my entire life. Plus, a $25K signing bonus…that was nice.

As this was during the Iraq surge things have most probably changed, but this is what happened almost 15 years ago on my end. The military turned my life around. Wasn’t perfect but I’d change nothing.


by Adi C

I will never forget the story of CPT B.

  1. Grew up in drug addict family
  2. Homeless from age of 16 until he joined the Army
  3. Managed to get his GED
  4. Enlisted in the Army as 11B
  5. Deployed to Afghanistan twice (CIB, Purple Heart)
  6. Promoted to SGT
  7. Graduated Ranger & JM school
  8. Consistently knocked out colleges classes with straight A’s, gets to 30 credits
  9. Applied & accepted for Green to Gold
  10. Earned his BA Economics & History from a top state school in 3 years
  11. Came back on AD as 11A
  12. Successfully Completed PL/XO/AS3/Company Command time including one more deployment to Afghanistan
  13. ETSed at 13 years on AD due to toll on family life
  14. Transitioned to National Guard
  15. Graduated from top 10 MBA program
  16. Currently a banker
  17. You could make a hallmark movie based on this guy’s story.


by Bob Erwin

You would be surprised at how often that happens. True story, when I went to get my physical at MEPS San Antonio, I shared a room, overnight with a previously homeless guy. I dont even remember his name.

What I do remember was that he could not sleep with the door closed. You see, after years of living on the street, it was quite accustomed to the sound of cars passing and even people walking past him as he slept. But the idea of being behind a closed door was unacceptable. So I took the 2nd bed and he took the bed closest to the door. I had to listen to freeway traffic all night.

Once we got to the MEPS station I lost track of him. I passed my physical and took the bus home the same day. My gut tells me that he probably got flagged for the drugs he was on. That is one of the first things they do is draw blood.

Another guy who I was in Basic Training with flipped out the second night while we were still in the reception center. He went AWOL and was brought back in hand cuffs. They let him say good bye to the group, and took him to jail early that morning. He also had been homeless and was suffering from withdrawal because you dont get drugs or alcohol while in Reception or Basic.


by Grant Sulham

They would be interviewed, tested and receive a physical exam. As 70% of the military aged population doesn’t meet enlistment standards. They would not be accepted.

The military doesn’t take people. They select people to meet the high standards required to serve in uniform. As a group chronically homeless people have a 30% mental health and 50% have substance abuse issues.
Given, there are qualified people that are homeless. Most see their condition as temporary and are highly motivated to get into housing and secure a job.

I feel no sympathy for the homeless because I feel like it is their own fault. Are there examples of seemingly “normal” and respectable people becoming homeless?

My name is Duncan Adelaide.

I am 22 years old.

In high school, I was the class nerd. I had a 4.0, very rarely missed school, and was generally regarded as likely to get somewhere in life. I was in the high school band, drama club, FCCLA, Future Problem Solvers, and in my Junior year served as class representative on the Student Council.

I came from a relatively poor, dysfunctionally strict and very religious family. My grandfather was head of the local church. He, and my immediate family, are of a sect of Christianity that demands absolute adherence to its doctrine and the shunning of anyone who does not comply.

I am gay.

After this was found out, I spent over a year being kept inside, told and reminded every day that I was “evil” and “not my son anymore” and “unable to be trusted to have any moral compass whatsoever.”

I dropped out of the online school I had been put into for that year, to get a job.

I did, and on my 18th birthday was wordlessly sent away, after having spent the previous evening saying my final goodbyes to my brother and sister, who I would no longer be able to have contact with. I have not heard from them since.

I stayed in the same town for a while, in a perpetual state of shock and grief that was only marginally improved when I moved to another state.

But I still had no will to live, and very swiftly this led to having no means to live, either.

Soon, winter arrived, and one frigid night with temperatures well below zero, I faced a choice: freeze to death, alone and unremembered, or take methamphetamines and stave off the hypothermia.

Meth is one of the most addicting drugs there are.

After six months of drug use, I hitchhiked to another city and checked into a mental hospital.

I spent a year on anti-psychotics, recuperating as best I could while staying at a Gospel Mission of all places. But after a year of people once again trying to indoctrinate the soul out of me, I ironically managed to find it, along with my will to live.

I am attending college for a Psychology degree now. I have a 3.8 GPA at the moment.

I’ve also started a part-time job, as a cashier at a supermarket.

I’m still staying at a shelter for homeless youth; that hasn’t changed yet. I have no credit history, no rental history, and I don’t make 2x the rent or have a cosigner, so getting into an apartment in this city is virtually impossible, and being a student makes me ineligible for most federally funded forms of housing assistance.

There are some promising leads with a local county program though, at long last, so I won’t be homeless much longer.

But I would like to conclude by saying that the next time you see a homeless person on the streets and feel anger or disgust or whatever negative emotion causes your lack of sympathy, I want you to remember me, and imagine that person as they would have been as a teenager, studying in school, hanging out with friends, all the things you did as a teen. And then, I want you to think of that person’s future as well: what would they look like, cleaned up and studying in college or working at the same job you work at?

And remember, with respect and some assistance, that teenager could become that college student and/or coworker.

With respect and some assistance, that homeless person could become that coworker. The first step is to stop assuming it is their fault. It really isn’t. Even the 20% or so of homeless people who do end up homeless because of poor life choices usually made those choices under duress.

And again, with respect and some assistance, their lives could be turned around. Whether or not you are in any way interested in helping with the assistance end of that, you can (and should) still show respect.

Treat people equally regardless of their housing status.

U.S. Military Recruiters & The Homeless what is your opinion?