Once-homeless vet invited to attend State of the Union speech Cynthia Dias holds Copper, a friend's dog who she looks after, at her apartment in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Once-homeless vet invited to attend State of the Union speech
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A formerly homeless veteran from Las Vegas was invited to sit in first lady Michelle Obama's visitor box during the State of the Union address. The speech was on Jan. 12.
 
Cynthia Dias, 64, served during the Vietnam War on a hospital ship as a registered nurse and attributed her years of homelessness to post-traumatic stress disorder.
 
About a year ago, Dias says, she was able to move from a homeless shelter for women and children into a former motel in downtown Las Vegas that was renovated through private donations to provide 122 units of housing for veterans. While staying in Veterans Village, residents like Dias get access to health care, job training and counseling.
 
The Obama administration is highlighting a challenge that the first lady and Jill Biden, the vice president's wife, issued for local leaders to do more to end veteran homelessness in 2015.
 
Las Vegas responded to the call, and city leaders say they have enough services and programs in place to house every homeless veteran.
 
Dias said she's in shock from Mrs. Obama's invitation and hopes people will think about her survival when they see her.
 
"I survived and I'm thriving here at Veterans Village," Dias said.
 
"For me, it's been a heaven-sent gift to be among other veterans who are suffering from PTSD," she said. "The camaraderie that veterans have for one another, it's better medication than the anti-depressants."
 
The founder of Veterans Village, Arnold Stalk, said it's important to get veterans off the street first and into a stable environment. Once that happens, it's easier to provide the health care and other support they'll need to live in a home permanently.
 
Dias was to join two other Obama guests, supporters who the president says provided early inspiration to his campaign.
 
Edith Childs, of Greenwood, South Carolina, met Obama at a rally in her state in June 2007. Obama credits her with coining the "Fired up! Ready to go!" call-and-response that became a rallying cry for both of his White House bids.
 
Another guest, Earl Smith, was head of security at an Austin hotel when he met Obama in February 2008. He gave Obama a military patch he had carried with him for 40 years. Obama carried it with him for the rest of the campaign.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did Mrs. Obama invite the vet instead of someone more famous?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (7)
  • nidab-1-glo
    1/19/2016 - 07:47 a.m.

    Mrs. Obama invited a vet instead of someone more famous because she wanted to highlight how far people can come from having so little. She probably also wanted to show that the issue of homeless vets is important and that we should do more to help them.

  • valentynas-1-glo
    1/19/2016 - 07:48 a.m.

    Mrs. Obama invited a vet instead of someone famous because right then she was working on getting homes for homeless veterans who were unable to sustain a job or home due to PTSD or loss of limbs or something else, and Mrs. Obama's challenge has helped that veteran, among many other veterans.

  • audreyj-1-glo
    1/19/2016 - 07:51 a.m.

    I think Mrs. Obama invited the vet instead of someone famous to show how they are making changes to save vets lives, also to show that anyone who serves our country is honorable.

  • mikaylam-1-glo
    1/19/2016 - 07:55 a.m.

    I think Mrs. Obama invited the vet instead of someone more famous because not only did the vet contribute her much appreciated service during the Vietnam war but she also represents many Veterans still out there like her. The Veteran looks like a normal person and I think that's what gets people intrigued when they see her with Mrs.Obama but really the vet has a great story she shares and can relate to with most Veterans today. This is a great way to make people more aware of how serious the issue of homeless Veterans is and I also think it's a unique and generous way to thank this vet for her service.

  • ryanp-1-glo
    1/19/2016 - 07:58 a.m.

    Mrs. Obama invited the vet instead of someone more famous because she wanted America to see that there are still minor issues, such as homeless veterans, that need our help as citizens. I think she also wanted us to see that she has compassion for people who are not as fortunate as her. She wants people who go through a daily struggle in her visitor box, so that America can see this compassion she has for people.

  • annieh-1-glo
    1/19/2016 - 08:10 a.m.

    Mrs. Obama invited the veteran because she wants to recognize local leaders and she wants to spread awareness about veteran homelessness. Mrs. Obama, local communities, and others have been trying to support homeless veterans by providing them with a new home and a new life.

  • morganmill-pla
    2/03/2016 - 07:26 p.m.

    The fact that Michelle Obama invited a veteran instead of someone famous shows that America has not forgotten about those who fought for our country. It is great to see that those with mental illnesses are able to get the help the need among their fellow comrades. Overall, it shows that the voices of our soldiers and veterans are heard and that America is willing to give back to those who sacrificed them selves for others.

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