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Page 23
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Federal Veterans' Benefits Located At The Washington DC Mall - Winter 1971(poem)

By Jim Murphy

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I got the paltry college money, $129 total for the G.I. Bill at the University of Maryland
I got the free 4 hour waits at the Irving Street VA hospital for a look-see
Along the Mall, The homeless Vets got the 'bennie'
to sleep on the snow-free heating grates by the Federal buildings

Our government saved many Nam vets' lives with this benefit
These Vets were the shadows embracing the metal grids…best spots hidden by shrubs
These vets could be white, black, Latino
BUT for a moment equal

They had ragged jungle fatigues for pajamas
Their winter quilts were soiled field jackets…poncho liners
AND…those heating grates worked all winter

Our government wouldn't fund vets dying from Agent Orange or 'Vietnam Syndrome'
Our government wouldn't provide housing, jobs, not even the VA hired us
The VFW and American Legion banned us…we were losers….Not in a real war

But nobody stopped these Vets from the Federal heating grates they called their evening

I was living
They were dying…and they would not be buried at Arlington

—Jim Murphy, Maryland
(Vietnam 1966 and 1968)
DC VVAW Forever

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