Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC.
Lester is a disabled veteran who served in the first Iraq war. He has been living on the streets of Washington, DC for the last five years having come to DC from upstate New York where he is originally from. In total, Lester says he has been homeless for 17 years. When asked about the nature of his disability Lester describes a collection of symptoms that in today’s military would be categorized as PTSD. In the early 1990s the military was not so inclined to make that determination. I asked Lester where he slept at night and he pointed to a nearby homeless encampment under a bridge overpass. He stays there rather than the city shelters which he finds far too dangerous.
Lester carries a large cardboard sign that says, “Homeless USA Veteran, Your help is gratefully appreciated. God Bless You.” He has located himself in the median of the Whitehurst Freeway as it exits Georgetown and becomes K Street going into the city. He is seen by a steady stream of car traffic as well as pedestrians walking to Georgetown. He says this is a pretty good spot as he already has three dollars and change and it’s only 9:30 in the morning. It helps that Lester is friendly, affable and not at all threatening to passersby. He says he can only be out in the hot sun and exhaust fumes for a few hours and will have to find a shady spot later in the morning. Lester agreed to this photograph in exchange for a monetary donation.
While Lester is able to generate some money through his daily panhandling, given the huge volume of traffic and people who pass him by without noticing, he clearly qualifies as one of the invisible ones of Washington, DC