I was once posed a very philosophical question by one of my favorite teachers: in this modern world, there have been more advances than ever before, and it is exponentially safer to live. Why is it then, that people are more anxious than ever? Although this question was posed to me years ago, it is something that I think about to this day. As I have grown I have realized it may be easier to survive now but in some ways it is harder to function. The world today is facing unimaginable social strife. The inhabitants of this Earth are stricken with poverty, societal marginalization and subjection, political oppression, lack of infrastructure, broken families, just to name a few. Examples of these struggles can be found within any corner of the world. Working with the Volunteer Coordinator for Catholic Charities, I have seen the struggles of humanity, but even more I have witnessed people working to take action. This paper aims to explore particular forms of social strife, volunteerism, and how volunteerism can be employed to make an impact.
Working with the Guadalupe Center for Basic Needs, my partners and I have noticed a variety of people living in homelessness or close to it. For each group there is a host of reasons for their situation.
A specific group often found living in homelessness in United States military veterans. When a person serves in active duty, they are shipped off for months up to several years at a time without visiting home. Many of these people witness and experience the atrocities of war first hand. They spend prolonged amounts of time away from anything or anyone familiar. This disheartening mix of homesickness and exposure to the depths of human suffering can often break a person. As a result, many veterans are often left with drug and/or alcohol dependencies.
In addition, witnessing and undergoing the experiences these people have often leaves them traumatized. Since the Vietnam War the amount of people experiencing “shell shock” as a result of serving in active duty as increased exponentially. With advances in medical and psychological science, this “shell shock” is now understood as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. PTSD has a host of symptoms that make it very difficult for a person to function. Someone suffering from PTSD might often experience night terrors, in which they have night mares based around their traumatic experiences. They might also be “triggered.” To be triggered means that seeing an image, hearing a similar sound, being asked about their experience, or experiencing any form of stimulus related to their trauma cases a flash back and the sufferer will likely experience a panic attack.
With this volatile combination of a prevalence of substance abuse, being disjoint from society, and the likelihood of post-traumatic stress makes it extremely difficult for active duty veterans to properly integrate into civilian society or simply get a job. As a result thousands of veterans are left in...