Homeless veteran serves as mentor

After serving in the Navy stateside for four years, starting a family and having a lengthy career in medicine, Jim. W., 56, found himself homeless and struggling with drugs and substance abuse.

“My wife had gotten sick and we went through some rocky times together,” Jim said. “Once our marriage ended, I just didn’t care much or try hard to find work.”

Jim’s divorce and drug use pushed him further into depression. He lost his job and apartment. He slept wherever he could. During the winter of 2012, Jim set up camp under a bridge and in abandoned trailers. He was homeless for two years.

“I was losing myself and I didn’t have a care in the world,” he said.

Jim stayed with friends and roamed Indianapolis until he heard about HVAF’s housing program in 2014. He met with a case manager and moved into transitional housing.

“It just changed my whole life,” Jim said. “I’m indebted to the organization that gave me a second chance. They have given me a safe, clean environment meant to focus on getting and staying clean
I have been clean for over two years now.”

Jim serves as a mentor for other veterans in his house.

“Jim has been an outstanding client in HVAF’s transitional housing program,” says Claire Halluska, MSW, LSW Warman Site Social Worker. “He has maintained sobriety and recovery for the past two years. He actively volunteers his time with HVAF by serving as the House Manager. Not only does he help his fellow veterans in his house but he also helps other homeless throughout Indianapolis,” adds Claire.

Jim doesn’t take his responsibility as House Manager lightly. He enforces rules and makes sure the nine veterans he shares space with stays on top of cleaning and chores.

“It has given me some self-respect again, it has given me structure and an overall feeling of self-worth,” says Jim.