Homeless Vets' Tough L.A. Winter | News | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Homeless Vets' Tough L.A. Winter 

Many reject society's lofty plans for them

Thursday, Jan 24 2013
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Yet within the homeless subculture of Los Angeles, many military veterans are quick to shoulder the blame for their own situation rather than heave responsibility onto the powers that be.

"It's by my own hand," Hill says of his living on the streets. "I did it to myself; I can't blame the government."

Sheen repeats the refrain.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JESSICA P. OGILVIE - During the cold snap, Sheen joined many at the Armory shelter, less than a mile from Brentwood's mansions.
  • PHOTO BY JESSICA P. OGILVIE
  • During the cold snap, Sheen joined many at the Armory shelter, less than a mile from Brentwood's mansions.

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"In the long run, I try not to blame," he says, "I try to be accountable for what I do and what happens to me." Of the government, he adds, "I just think they're overwhelmed."

One night, after Sheen showed L.A. Weekly around the Venice streets where he's been staying, we gave him a ride to the National Guard Armory on Federal Avenue adjacent to the VA, where a winter shelter had been set up by Los Angeles County. It's locked down for the night, but he'd previously worked out a deal to be admitted late, after his interview. He knocks, and a security guard cracks the door open.

The guard listens to the explanation for why Sheen is trying to get in after hours and shuts the door to fetch Regina, a shelter worker. Regina comes to let Sheen inside.

Before heading to his cot, Sheen turns and says, "It's a good thing you were with me. If I were by myself, they wouldn't have let me in, and then I wouldn't have nowhere to go."

Reach the writer at jessicapauline@gmail.com.

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