If you've walked through People's Park in Bloomington in the past ten years, you might have noticed Stan Staples.
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 http://www.hvafofindiana.org/what-we-do/programs-services/.