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Federal Veterans' Benefit In Washington D.C. - Winter 1971 (poem)
By Jim Murphy
No not the paltry college money, $129 total, for the G.I. Bill at the U. of Maryland
No not the free 4 hour waits at the Irving Street VA hospital for a look-see
But the "bennie" to sleep on the snow-free heating grates by the Federal buildings
Our government saved many Nam vets' lives with this convenience
They were the shadows embracing the metal grids... best spots hidden by shrubs
They had ragged jungle fatigues for pajamas
Their winter quilts were soiled field jackets... poncho liners
AND...those heating grates worked all winter
They wouldn't fund vets dying from Agent Orange or "Vietnam Syndrome"
They 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 vets from the Federal heating grates they called their evening home
I was living... not to be pulled down by the cruel injustice of war
They were dying... they would not be buried at Arlington...