Note: This story comes from Cordell Walker, executive director of Alpha Omega Veteran’s Services, one of United Way’s network agency partners working to strengthen families and neighborhoods through improving education, income and health. Names and images have been changed to protect privacy.
George was looking for a way to dull the pains of his life and developed an addiction to alcohol and cocaine. Unable to stop drinking and using, it wasn’t long before his life began to spiral out of control.
As a veteran in his late fifties honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, George’s addictions put a terrible strain on his family relationships. The further he retreated from his relatives, the more he had to become self-reliant – and his addictions crippled his ability to make good decisions to care for himself.
Soon, he found himself alone on the streets and sleeping in unsafe places. In addition to the toll on his health from his addictions, George quickly developed other illnesses and was receiving care from a local renal care center that was located right behind one of United Way’s network partner agencies.
“The nurse at the renal care center told George about our agency and how we could help him,” a partner agency counselor reports. “She suggested George talk to us about our housing programs and services.”
The partner agency provides food, shelter, clothing, housing and rehabilitative services to homeless and displaced veterans – and George fit every one of those categories and needs in one way or another. After some initial interviewing, the agency decided that the most important goal was to get George help for his addictions, cleaned up and returned to permanent housing with a stable and productive outlook on life.
“They accepted me like I was… without judging me,” George said. “My family could not take me in unless I straightened out my life.”
With the agency’s help and some hard work on his part, George was able to enter the transitional living program, which gave him hope and helped him maintain his sobriety.
“I’ve made some really bad choices, but now I am able to make better decisions to improve my quality of life,” George said.
In time, George was able to mend his relationships with his wife and son, which has given him an opportunity to have a relationship with his two grandchildren.
“George’s grandchildren have become the joy of his life,” the agency counselor said.
“George currently attends church and sings in the gospel choir,” the counselor said. “He now has the support of his family, our agency, as well as his church. He surrounds himself with positive people and a healthy environment. He gives God the glory for putting him on the right path.”
Thanks to your gifts to United Way’s network of care, veterans who served our nation with honor like George have support systems and caring counselors to help them make crucial changes to save their own lives. Your gifts help reduce the number of people in our area living on the streets and also provides help with our area’s rates of people impacted by illegal drugs and alcohol abuse.