Two homeless veterans share special friendship

Jim and Paul (From left to right)
A single day's work can be transformative for any veteran, especially one fighting his way back from homelessness. Paul M., 52, knows this because he is a veteran and was once in need of not only a well-paying job but a safe place to live. He found both with the help of HVAF but he also gained a friend whom he has mentored. This is the story of how two veterans never imagined homelessness would bring them together and how they have found happiness again.

Paul’s journey out of homelessness was not easy. For 2 1/2 months the veteran of the Army reserves was homeless. Connections to family frayed. He was homeless, living in a shelter. Time after time, he vowed to do better but couldn't break the cycle. He entered HVAF housing in April 2014 with only $7 in his pocket.

First, his housing needs were met after he met with Case Manager Sarah Reed who helped him get back on his feet. Paul lived at the Keltner House and it was where he first met fellow veteran Jim R. Then, his job search began in earnest.

Both Paul and Jim received help with resume building as well as transportation to and from job fairs. Employment Specialist Robin Close helped both veterans improve their resumes and Paul was able to find a job at a landscaping company. The job proved to be too physically demanding so he began looking for another job.

“I’m a natural reactor,” says Paul and my HVAF case manager has helped me out a lot with that. I think about things and weigh the pros and cons now before I react. Sarah advised me that if I am going to quit I should have a plan first. I accepted a job with Sunshine Painting before I left my old job.”

Jim, 52, also an Army veteran, came to HVAF in May 2014, and was first housed at HVAF’s Manchester Apartments and then moved to the Keltner House. During this time of transition, Jim’s wife passed away. He was heartbroken.

Paul was there to help.

Both painters by trade, Paul helped Jim find employment at Sunshine Construction.

They both ride two buses each day for 1 ½ hours. They talk about music (both love 80’s rock) as well as reflect on good and bad times together.

“Paul’s friendship has helped me tremendously. I don’t know where I would be now if it wasn’t for him. He also has helped me overcome an anxiety to crowds. Before meeting Paul I would suffer from panic attacks. I have been off medication for 3 months and I am feeling great.

“HVAF as well as my friendship with Paul has helped me in many ways especially during my toughest times,” says Jim. “The staff at HVAF has been a tremendous force to my success.”

The Result

With help from HVAF, Paul and Jim overcame homelessness and are successfully employed. They also qualified for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program and received assistance as they transitioned into their own home in Fountain Square. They also received a car which will cut down on travel time to and from work.

“I am forever thankful for HVAF and having met everyone who has challenged us and ultimately changed our lives for the better,” echoes Paul and Jim.

HVAF employment services make strides in finding jobs for veterans

From January 2015 - July 2015, one hundred and fourteen veterans who rely on HVAF services and programs were hired by fifteen employers. These employers are committed to hiring veterans.
Robert H., a retired United States Army veteran with 20 years of service was hired by G2 Secure Staff on February 25. He came to HVAF for help after he became unemployed. When he pulled in the parking lot at HVAF, he was not aware of the services offered but he was determined to learn more.

He first met with a staff member from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program who helped him get his rent and electric payments paid and also met with an Employment Specialist.  Robin Close, a Employment Specialist at HVAF, sent Robert a job lead about open interview dates at G2 Secure Staff at the Indianapolis Airport. At G2 Secure Staff, Robert was hired to work at the Indianapolis International Airport.

Two months after being hired, Robert landed a promotion and is now a flight coordinator for G2 Secure Staff.  For a full list of companies who have recently hired a veteran from HVAF click here.

Mission trip for teens leaves lasting impact on homeless veterans

Throughout the month of July volunteers from all across the country volunteered at HVAF through the organization known as “Week of Hope.” Week of Hope is a youth mission trip that teaches students Christ-like empathy and compassion for others as they serve the needs of local communities. Groups raked leaves, landscaped, washed windows cleaned floors and completed other projects at several HVAF housing properties.

The week of July 20, students from Iowa and Michigan embarked on their week-long mission trip. Janet Hanson from Bondurant, Iowa, was an adult chaperone.

“We have a servant heart and we strive to teach our kids to be in the hands of God in our world,” says Janet. “Our kids are truly blessed. We want them to see how they can serve others.”

Hannah Struck, 18, recently graduated from Manistee High School in Michigan.

“I am learning how to help people and am seeing firsthand the difference we can make. My Dad is here with us so that is special in that I am sharing their experience with him.”

HVAF is appreciative of all its volunteers. If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities go to

Crossing Iowa for a cause

Jack finishes RAGBRAI
Jack Wickes' story of cycling more than 462 miles across the state of Iowa during RAGBRAI -  the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride garnered both national and local news coverage on, NPR, WQAD in the Quad Cities area of West-Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa,FOX59, CBS4 and RTV6. So far he has raised twenty three hundred dollars for HVAF. 

During his time on the road, Wickes sent in photos about his experiences: the things he saw, the emotions he felt and the challenges he faced. 

On July 19, Jack Wickes completed his 7th day of cycling. He began training last summer and set out to achieve a fitness goal as well as raise awareness and funds for HVAF programs and services. To further the efforts to help homeless veterans, Wickes dedicated 50 cents for every RAGRAI mile to HVAF.

“We appreciate those who have served our country, but there are those that really need our help,” says Jack. “In addition to their service, they just need to get back on their feet. This is about helping those vets that are down. They served our country and this is our way of giving back to them.”

With the support and encouragement of friends new and old, Wickes created awareness of the issue of homelessness among veterans across the state. He says his military service, as a sergeant in Vietnam, gave him a deeper understanding and appreciation for others who have served.

Reluctant veteran embraces help to end his homelessness - Billy’s story

The Challenge

Billy A., 34, is one of a dozen veterans at HVAF participating in a new 4-part series budgeting class held by
Corrine Harvey, a licensed clinical social worker along with MSW Intern MacKenzie Maloney. Topics ranged from money management to avoiding pitfalls veterans face as they transition home.

Budgeting Class at HVAF
During his transition home, the Indianapolis-area veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard had fallen on hard times. For 2 years, he was homeless. When he first learned about services offered to veterans through HVAF he was reluctant at first. Like so many homeless veterans who have lived for years on the streets, Billy had come to feel ashamed and resisted taking the difficult steps to come in from the outside.

HVAF recovery program staff encounter such resistance each day in their work to reach and serve veterans like Billy. They empathized with him. Billy agreed to enter HVAF’s recovery program (REST) and was determined to change his life around for the better.

“I am hopeful that the clients that walk away from the budgeting class will start to feel like they have more control over their lives and their money,” says Corrine Harvey, LCSW. “The premise is self-sufficiency but the overall purpose is empowerment.”  

“I was in denial,” says Billy. “I know my spending habits had gotten out of control and what money I did have was spent on drugs and so I had very little and knew I needed some help. I was feeding my addiction,” adds Billy.

Fred Young, HVAF’s REST Coordinator, has noticed improvements in Billy as far as his ability to adjust to change.

The Result

Billy’s steps in seeking help at HVAF has enabled him to trust others again. He has embraced his circumstances and is making progress in the recovery program. He also has reconnected with his family which has brought both joyful and painful memories in which he is working through.
Billy is excited about a fresh start; one that includes employment one day soon.

“I am learning ways to manage my money. I don’t want to end up back on the streets,” adds Billy.



At age 68, Jack, a Vietnam veteran, has set a lofty fitness goal. Jack's goal is to break the cycle of homelessness and in doing so will push the limits of what some would consider a tough feat; an uphill battle. It is the pioneer, the leader, the maverick who stands up for an idea and goes after it regardless of whether the world considers it unrealistic.  

Jack has been training back in August 2014, in anticipation of RAGBRAI - the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride across Iowa on July 19 where he will cycle 462 miles in 7 days. He has pledged 50 cents a mile donation for every RAGBRAI mile he rides to the charity of his choice, HVAF of Indiana. Jack is a former board member of HVAF of Indiana and has helped countless veterans in their road to recovery.

Support Jack in his journey to help v
eterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms in which we have today. Make a contribution that is meaningful to you. ---->

Jack training 

Success in numbers - HVAF employment services

Hiring veterans is good for business. Reports show that hiring veterans is good for companies. Veterans offer versatility. They are accustomed to policies and structure but can adapt to dynamic workplace situations and their leadership and teamwork abilities often outpace their civilian coworkers and they are loyal and committed to the organizations they work for, which can translate into longer tenure as well.

Here is a list of our workforce partners have hired veterans who rely on HVAF services and programs. (list compiled July 9, 2015)

1. Goodwill Industries

-Goodwill Industries has hired 7 of our veterans over the past few months.
-They have also partnered with us in helping our veterans with a criminal background get back into the workforce through their New Beginnings Program.
-The New Beginnings Program is a six month job and life skills program for unemployed ex-offenders (with the exception of violent & sexual offenders). The program provides supportive services to persons who have a criminal background and are unable to secure employment. Individuals that are accepted into the program will automatically receive a full-time job at the  Goodwill Commercial Services Warehouse with paid medical and dental insurance. Individuals are required to meet certain goals that further assist with stabilizing housing and full-time employment. They are also required to attend a Life Skills class one day per week.

2. Finish Line

- Finish Line hired 4 HVAF veterans this year for their Distribution center and their call center.

3. VA Hospital

-The VA Hospital hired 7 HVAF veterans through the VA’s Direct Hire Program this year.
- The Voc. Rehab team and the VA’s HR department works very closely with us to help our clients complete the Direct Hire Packet and help them get an interview for various positions within the Housekeeping Department.

4. Interactions Corporation

-Interactions Corporation hired 15 HVAF veterans over the past year.
-They attended our Veterans job fair May 7th.
-They work hard to actively hire our vets.
-Also had a Meet and Greet here at HVAF to actively recruit vets.

5. Randstad Staffing

- Randstad Staffing hired well over 16 veterans who rely on HVAF services and programs.
-The staffing company always willing to go out of their way to help our clients and work with them regarding their schedules so they can catch the bus to/from work.
-Randstad has attended both HVAF job fairs in July 2014 and our most recent job fair (in which they hired 7 more vets on the spot).

6. Fed Ex Smart Post

-Fed Ex has hired 11 of HVAF veterans over the past year.
-Fed Ex held an open hiring event at their facility to help recruit vets.
-They attended our veteran's job fair July 24th 2014 and May 7th 2015.

7. Walmart

-Walmart hired 6 HVAF veterans over the last year.
-They attended our vet's job fair last July.
-Walmart also donated money to HVAF at their Grand Opening for their West Michigan Road location.
- They have a strong vet hiring initiative.

8. Allied Barton Security

- Allied Barton Security attended both job fairs held at HVAF.
-They have hired roughly 9 veterans who rely on HVAF services and programs.
- Additionally, Allied Barton Security actively hire and recruit vets through their vet hiring initiative

9. G2 Secure Staff

- We have recently established a partnership with them and they are a great help with getting some of our vets employed.
-They attended our job fair last May
-They have hired 12 of our veterans.

10. UPS

- We have recently established a partnership with them and they are a great help with getting some of our vets employed.
-They attended our job fair in May and so far, they have hired some of our people but I'm not sure of an exact amount
- They also volunteered for HVAF and helped clean out the crawl space.
- They actively recruit and hire vets.

11. Home Depot

-They have hired 5 our vets.
-They are a big supporter of HVAF.
-They have attended both job fairs.

12. Lowe's

-They have hired 3 of our vets
-We have a strong relationship with their call center and also their retail stores.
-Veteran Representatives and Recruiters from the Lowe's Call center came in to HAVF in March and conducted an Employer Meet and greet. They hired 4 of our vets for their Brand New Call Center that is located on the Northwest side of Indianapolis.

13. Volt Workforce Solutions

-Volt Workforce Solutions hired 6 of our veterans within the past 4 months and they placed our vets in positions over $10 per hour.

14. Prospect Airport Services

-Hired four veterans in the past 4 months. They offer flexibility to our vets to ensure that they can get o work.
-Prospect Airport Services are willing to work with people with Criminal Backgrounds

15. G4S Security

-G4S recently attended HVAF's job fair in July and they actively hired 4 people on the spot.