Every night in America, about 70,000 veterans sleep on the streets. For 30 years, Gerard Thomas was one of them.
A paranoid schizophrenic, Thomas took a long time to get back indoors after serving in a stateside military hospital during the Vietnam War.
In and out of prison, mental institutions and straitjackets for decades, sleeping on park benches, in doorways or in the woods, Thomas was living proof of the holes in our social safety net.
He kept looking for help, he said, but like many veterans of that war, all he heard was “No.”
“Back then, people didn’t understand how damaged we were,” said Thomas, 62, who now devotes his life to helping homeless veterans.