SEATTLE — During the height of debate over Syrian refugees, attention briefly turned to homeless veterans, making former Army Spc. and current refrigerator box tenant Micheal Schmidt “super happy that people finally cared about [him].”
“I’ve been homeless on the streets and begging for money for about a year and a half now,” says Schmidt. “But it really felt great for a couple weeks to think ‘all that is about to change.'”
At the peak of the refugee crisis in Europe and the debate within the United States over granting displaced Syrians asylum, outcry against such asylum exploded on social media, led by people who suddenly discovered there are homeless veterans.
“I don’t see why we should let random foreigners come here to escape their problems when we have so many of our own,” wrote avid Facebook user Kesha Williams. “Don’t people know we have over a hundred thousand #HomelessVeterans?”
Williams, who is fairly certain her tax payments cover any and all of her charitable obligations, has not donated to homeless veterans yet. However, she says she “intends to give any spare food” she has to one, if she happens across any while she is walking downtown with a bag of McDonald’s in her hand, and “as long as [she is] just about finished with it anyway.”
Yet despite the complete lack of action by any of the legion of Americans using the #HomelessVeterans hashtag on twitter, those same veterans like Schmidt report growing satisfaction with their lives in a directly correlative proportion to hashtags used in their honor. As he prepares for the harsh Northwestern winter night, he wears a smile.
“I always knew someday I would amount to something. I just never realized it would be a pawn in a partisan, ad hominem attack on Syrian refugees. Tonight I fall asleep happy. Cold, abandoned, alone, and hungry … but happy,” he said, before strolling off to beg.