November 30, 2013

Daughter of a Homeless Alcoholic Vet Responds to Video. ~ Christine Cissy White

I passed through the seven stages of grief watching a middle-aged homeless man transformed by a haircut in the following video.


Crying at first and surprised to be moved—with just his hair wet and off of his face, he begins to come to life and I can see him as a person who could sit at my dinner table. Will cut bangs reveal my father’s eyes, I wonder? I have personalized every homeless man I have ever seen wondering if he might be related to me.

My tears are replaced by annoyance as the hairdresser places dye on his hair. Why on earth would she do that? What about his roots? Will he be tracked down under a bridge or in a bar every six weeks for touch ups? Why not get a dentist to help those black gums and rotting teeth? Would the VA cover that? What about his health?

Is this guy being taken advantage of for a feel good clip? Do homeless people really benefit?

I think I notice him smile as his hair is cleared from around his eyes . Does it feel good for him to be touched and nurtured?

He starts to seem, well, not bad looking. I mean better looking than a lot of the men on Match. Should I start hair styling for homeless men and find a future mate?

Rage comes in and the nasty part of me wants to face bomb the video. I imagine talking to everyone who watches it saying, “He’s a drunk who probably stole from his kid’s bank and beat their mother. Why don’t you get a video of her working while he was sleeping on the streets?”

I’m the daughter of a homeless veteran.

Is it PC for people like me to editorialize the range of feelings I have reacting to this one clip?

But it’s more than that. This man represents the homeless veterans in our society who, on every day but Veteran’s Day, seem to be considered litter on city streets. No matter what our views on war, can’t we agree that veterans deserve at least basic rations and decent medical care? Does that seem political? Because to me, it just seems human.

How come people aren’t posting Thank a Veteran for your freedom when former soldiers protest the lack of their VA services? If they fought for the freedom we all enjoy, aren’t we all equally responsible when that fighting caused or exacerbated mental illnesses or addictions? Do we only want to claim them on Veteran’s Day?

I wonder if we need to make over society and highlight our own hypocrisy. It would take longer, like dental work, and not be as quick or pretty as a haircut or touch up.

I’m not trying to change your politics. These are just the thoughts of a grown daughter thinking of her, if he’s even alive, homeless alcoholic veteran father.

 Days later, will it be only me still thinking about this video?

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Assistant Editor: Kerrie Shebiel / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo credit: Colin G

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