Inspired by the story of Sitting Bull's grandson, a Vietnam veteran who lived homeless in Denver from 1986-1989, the 555 seeks to spotlight homeless veterans as a prime example of the horrible consequences of PTSD and other trauma related mental illnesses. The issue of veterans without housing is significant and growing larger by the day. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports that on any given night, 76,000 veterans go homeless. Only 8 percent of the US population can claim veteran status, however, male veterans comprise 33 percent of the general homeless population. In addition to these current numbers, 1.5 million veterans are presently at-risk for homelessness in the future.
Homeless veterans are only one of the many populations that suffer extreme loss and mental anguish because of trauma. But they're a good place to start. The 555 Collective utilizes the arts (humanity's greatest resource) to combat trauma (humanity's greatest challenge to its well-being). The format of a haiku contest has been chosen due to the haiku's demand of brevity and poignancy from the writer. The diamond ring is offered as a prize because it is the most valuable item in Joseph's possession at this time. The tattoo component exists to signify the commitment of the 555 to compassion for humanity, as well as innovative art.
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