A man who froze to death in Eugene, Oregon this week was a United States veteran, according to KVAL (via KATU.com):
Thomas Lawrence Egan "was a decorated war veteran who earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon."
Word of Egan's death spread quickly throughout Lane County's community of veterans. He was well known among veterans support circles. He served two decades in the Army and Oregon Army National Guard, spent two years serving in Korea and earned several medals and ribbons for his service.
Bud Dickey, a Vocational Rehablitation Coordinator with Eugene's VA Clinic, says Egan's story is tragic.
Dickey served alongside Egan for five years in the Oregon National Guard. He calls Egan " a good person who fell on bad times."
"There were several different times when people tried to help him and for certain times, he was OK," said Dickey. "For whatever reasons, he couldn't stay on track and chose to continue to drink."
Addiction, of course, is a disease. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports:
In addition to the complex set of factors affecting all homelessness -- extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income, and access to health care -- a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
KVAL notes in their story that Egan had been awarded: