RE CHRISTINE Flowers' op-ed about homelessness:

I am a chaplain at a psychiatric hospital in South Jersey and am also a retired military veteran. I also serve as a chaplain in Camden at the Trauma Hospital.

I see homelessness and mental illness up close and personal every day. She sees them as an "annoyance," and I see them as God's lost children.

One out of every four homeless adult males are military vets, and most homeless people suffer from some form of mental illness, drug addiction or traumatic stress syndrome.

I thank God every day that my tours in Somalia and Desert Storm didn't leave me so traumatized that I couldn't work.

I have an autoimmune disease (sarcoidosis) as a result of being in Desert Storm, I am blind in one eye, and I have severe rheumatoid arthritis. It is only the grace of God and a supportive wife that keeps me from being one of those lost souls who lives on the street or in a mental institution.

Ms. Flowers, when you wake up in your warm bed in the morning, try thanking your Creator that you have a sound mind, a roof over your head and food to eat - because it could easily have been you. Then again, like most hard-core conservatives, you talk about patriotism but never served in the military because you could afford to go to college.

Mark H. Stevens

Browns Mills, N.J.