As the daughter, niece, and granddaughter of veterans I say no. You don’t get to ignore the plight of the men and women who fought to keep you safe, until you can use them as an excuse to be selfish and discriminate against Muslims.
The Republican party has voted down at least 8 bills that would have benefited veterans. If people really cared about homeless veterans, they would have made a huge uproar over those bills being shot down. But now that veterans can be used as an excuse, as someone to hold up while you say “Look how good and patriotic I am, I put veterans before refugees,” now the uproar is happening.
It doesn’t work like that, for one very important reason.
Let’s ignore for the moment that refugees already go through an extensive vetting process.
Let’s ignore that refugee camps are the best terrorist recruiting grounds.
Let’s ignore that the refugees are seeking asylum from a war we caused.
Let’s even ignore the large number of people in this country who haven’t cared about veterans up until now.
Setting aside all of the politics, let’s look at the two things refugees and homeless veterans have in common: They are both human, and they both need our help.
We constantly put labels on ourselves and each other. We divide ourselves by our politics, our religion, our nationality, our race, our gender, our sexual orientation, our income, and so much more. But when we tear away all of those labels we find that we are all inherently the same. We are all simply human. And if we forget the labels, how can we say one person is more deserving of help than another? The homeless veteran is in need of food, shelter, a job, medicine, and safety. The refugee is in need of food, shelter, a job, medicine, and safety. We don’t have to pick which one we help. Likewise, we don’t get to use one as an excuse for not helping the other.
The author of Hebrews said “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:1, NRSV). In the Old Testament, Abraham and Lot are said to have literally entertained angels without knowing. But this doesn’t mean that some of our house guests are literally angels in disguise. Remember when Jesus said “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, NRSV). When we serve those in need, we are serving God. You might think that just means helping the people close to us (like homeless veterans), but it extends beyond that. Many times in the Torah God commands us to welcome foreigners: “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19). Maybe we weren’t foreigners in Egypt, but remember that 99% of Americans are descended from immigrants. We haven’t been asked, we have been commanded by God to show hospitality to people in need, both those who are like us, and those who are strangers to us. When we do so, we are showing hospitality to God, because we are serving God’s children aka, humans.
Homeless veterans are not an excuse. If you claim the title of Christian you have an obligation to help refugees and homeless veterans and every other human being who is in need. We don’t get to decide who is human and who is not. We don’t get to decide who deserves our aid. So either stop making excuses, or admit that you just don’t want to follow Christ’s teachings.