Irish ex-service army personnel, who served for their country before and were willing to sacrifice their lives for their country, now are homeless.
On 10 February 2019, Oglaigh Naisiunta na hEireann (ONE), an organisation helping veterans in hard times, released a video under the title of “Sleeping flags”. The aim of the organisation was to raise awareness for homeless Irish Defence Force veterans.
The Circular had a chance to talk about this social problem with Brian McLoughlin Head of Communications for Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH). According to him, although some charities can be helpful, there are still so many things that the government should do for preventing Irish ex-service army personnel’s becoming homeless.
Firstly, McLoughlin said the major reason for the social problem is the private rental market because they cannot afford rents; they are too high. Then, he said that “Ex-service people do not get any supports after they leave service, and that is probably the second biggest problem for them.”
As a matter of fact, everybody is affected by that social problem. McLoughlin keeps saying this because he knows that everyone is in danger. The major reason behind the social problem can affect everybody in a worse way in the future. He explained that “We know people who have got good jobs in big well-known companies, and they still need to rent a room and share with 3 other people because they cannot afford Dublin prices. Therefore, this issue is not something that is specific to people who may do not work, are not able to work or have medical issues. It is actually affecting people wide outside of that, and that includes army personnel.”
ICHH’s Symbol, Credit by Zeynep Alparslan
The grim reality appeared after they leave the army. They face so many difficulties. For instance, they can struggle to find alternative work, and they may turn to alcohol or something else. McLoughlin commented that “ I think, there is not enough proper mental health support for people in the army but also support regards to the housing, getting for jobs. If they leave the army, they are kind of cut in a lot of cases.” Additionally, McLoughlin pointed out a concrete example of the grim reality. It was a case which was about an ex-army serviceman who was sleeping his car with his family. He stated that no one should not be in that position after working for representing and protecting the country when it is needed to be. Then, he added, “That was their job: they are putting themselves in the line of gunfire, they represent the country, but they don’t get the support they need when they come home. I think, the army and the government have a lot to answer for in that senses, it is a lot of it’s down to them.”
To prevent the unfair situation of ex-service army personnel, McLoughlin suggested that there should be proper supporting places that army personnel can go and can be helped after they leave the army. Also, the army and the government should help them to find accommodation and alternative jobs. There should be guidance given to them. Moreover, the government needs to fix the housing problem.