Veterans In Late Adulthood
I observed homeless veteran men within the late adulthood population at the Borden Avenue Veterans Shelter in Long Island City, NY. I watched the veterans first in a recreation room interacting socially with other clients, next, in a meeting with social workers, and lastly, outside of the shelter on the streets of New York. These observations were all made at the same time, at approximately 12 pm. I watched the veterans both interact with others and behave on their own for an hour in each setting. During this time, I saw and noted many different aspects of what it means to be a homeless veteran in late adulthood through a social ...view middle of the document...
As a whole, the clients who dressed better acted more serious and responsible. In other words, the grooming and attire of the clients were absolutely congruent with their behaviors.
Most of the clients were entirely positive with the exception of a few negative outbursts.
The recreation room was set up with horizontal tables, around ten people to one table. I sat in the corner with another staff member, and my presence was clear. The clients were aware that I did not belong, and it was obvious they were questioning my reasons for being there. I felt very excluded and could not imagine what the clients who were not being drawn into the groups must have felt like.
While the recreation room showed clients to be mostly laid-back and positive, the social worker’s office portrayed a completely different outlook on the clients. As soon as they walked through the door, I noticed disparities in their guards going up and being far less open as I had noted they were in the recreation room. I observed two clients come in at the same time who each had an appointment with a different social worker. They did not communicate with each other but instead entirely focused on the social workers and myself. The clients acted more formal and seemed as if they took themselves more seriously in this type of environment. Additionally, their conversation topics had shifted. Instead of joking around and talking about the positives of life, the veterans were suddenly noting how depressed and anxious they felt. They immediately started complaining about different staff members and how they were ruining their lives. Vouchers and public assistance allowances dominated the conversations between the clients and the social workers. The impression that I took from these clients in this particular setting were that their lives were horrible, and that everything that was going wrong was. There were grievances about mostly everything there could have been within the shelter, including room changes, annoying clients, food, and even the temperature within the facility. Their demeanors had changed as well, and mannerisms became more conscious and formal. However, they had not changed their clothes or groomed themselves any more than they had for lunchtime in the recreation room.
The third setting was perhaps the most interesting to me. Clients would exit the shelter to go to their jobs, activities, or get food. I chose to observe clients in this setting because I was curious to see their interactions with people on the outside world, or not within the confines of the shelter. I observed once someone would leave the facility, and watched them walk to their destination, usually the town.
Once the clients exited the shelter, they acted similar to typical individuals who were not vulnerable nor needed the help and attention they were receiving. The clients I watched dressed in nicer clothes and carried themselves with more confidence than they do within the shelter....