Recovery Day for HVAF veterans

HVAF along with the Residential, Employment, Substance Abuse, Treatment (REST) program held its 11th Annual Recovery Day on Sept. 19.  Each September, in support of National Recovery Month, HVAF holds an event to reflect on the recovery efforts of individuals, families and communities affected by addiction.

Recovery Day is a chance to reflect on past accomplishments and set new goals and allows veterans the opportunity to speak in support of individuals in recovery. The day’s festivities included three speaker meetings, and also included games and barbecue. 

HVAF provides homeless veterans with housing, counseling and other basic needs. The organization’s recovery program aids veterans to overcome addictions to drugs or alcohol as well as mental health barriers. Visit to learn more about the event.

Employee Spotlight – Kayla Jackson

This month, we recognize Kayla Jackson who just celebrated two years with HVAF last month and is one of seven Case Managers with the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. 

Kayla's contributions to the nonprofit sector began 7 years ago in Hendricks County where she worked one-on-one helping families. Then, she worked in Marion County and helped elementary school children with skills training. 

Kayla is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Social Work at IUPUI. When asked why she chose to work at HVAF, Kayla recalls an emotional time in her life, “I had a close friend who joined the military when he was 20 years old. When he returned home he struggled with PTSD and he struggled with depression. In 2013 we lost him to suicide. This led me to want to make a difference,” adds Kayla. “And I knew that HVAF was the place I wanted to work to put the skills I have learned into action.” 

Kayla’s role as Case Manager involves working with near homeless and homeless veterans. She tells us that what inspires her are seeing clients, “accomplish the goals they have established for themselves after having to overcome so many barriers in their lives. Whether that’s finding gainful employment that increases their positive sense of self-worth, finally getting access to the healthcare they’ve needed to treat illnesses that affected their lives for years, or having a small apartment they can call their own.” 

“These are things most of us take for granted.” says Kayla but for people who have experienced chronic homelessness in their lives, it means the difference between barely surviving and actually living the life they’ve dreamed for themselves.” 

Veteran spotlight

If you've walked through People's Park in Bloomington in the past ten years, you might have noticed Stan Staples. 

Or not. 

The weary veteran may have seemed invisible in the rush of commuters grabbing coffee from the coffee shop across the street each morning, or passers-by picking out clothing from a nearby boutique. 

Stan had no home. 

Using some of the survival skills he learned in the military, Stan lived on the streets of Bloomington. He would find a spot in the city where officers didn’t frequent. The Army veteran had not worked for 14 years. And gum disease had caused him to lose all of his teeth. 

“I gave up and had no goals and my own laziness led to my homelessness,” says Stan. “I also turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope I couldn’t satisfy expectations others had placed on me and as a result I didn’t have any self-esteem. And since I suffered from gum disease I had my teeth pulled so I rarely smiled,” adds Stan. 

That changed when Stan traveled to the Indianapolis VA which was where he learned about services offered to homeless veterans and provided free to Stan.

Stan entered HVAF's housing and recovery program in June 2014. For the first time in 14 years he had a room in a safe, clean supportive housing building for veterans.

At HVAF’s Residential, Employment, Substance Abuse, Treatment (REST) program, Stan stayed for 8 ½ months and received a certificate of recovery program completion. During that time in recovery, HVAF referred him to the IU School of Dentistry for free dental work. He received dentures.

The partnership between HVAF and the IU School of Dentistry proved to a stepping stone in his life. Stan received a new set of dentures from the IU School of Dentistry which was completely free. 

Once Stan graduated from the REST program he moved into another HVAF property – the Manchester Apartments for an additional 6 months and in March, he began working at the Salvation Army.

“HVAF taught me to believe in myself again and to not be afraid to ask for help,” says Stan.

Today, Stan has his own room with a private bathroom in an apartment. He has a microwave and refrigerator. “On the streets you couldn’t keep clean. Now I have a roof over my head."  

More about REST program 

More information about HVAF’s programs and services is available at 

Indy Star and NUVO Magazine highlight ‘Stand Down’

An event aimed to help homeless veterans stand up helped 489 veterans. At AMVETS Post 99, 231 volunteers rushed to unfold extra chairs for the 11th annual Stand Down event held Sept. 10. 

Post 99 was lined with tables, each serving as a station to offer free goods, advice and help to some of the homeless and near-homeless veterans of the Indianapolis area. While men and women made their way to each station inside, others were having their haircut for free outside as well as speaking with professionals for employment advice. 

Whitney Hamilton, a 59-year-old Vietnam veteran believes that events like Stand Down are extremely beneficial and he relies on services provided each year.  

"As I keep going through this process and I see these blessings keep coming, it makes me just, this is where I want to be," Hamilton said. "I am loving my recovery." 

 Stand Down originated in San Diego, Calif, as a place for homeless veterans to come and receive help as they cope with postwar life.  

Read the Indy Star and NUVO Magazine stories about the event here.