HVAF provides bikes to homeless veterans

Reggie Jefferson, 58, a homeless U.S. Army veteran, was once a professional singer. He relocated to South Beach, Florida in 1994 after his wife passed away. Reggie says he ended up homeless, sleeping on the beach, listening to ocean waves crash before him. His life was spiraling downward and he returned back home to Indianapolis for help with alcoholism.

Mark Lykins, a case manager with HVAF's Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, realized that transportation served as a major barrier for verans. He began a bike program for our homeless veterans at HVAF which is how the two men met.

Since the bike program began in June of 2016, Mark has collected 37 bikes. Monetary donations have allowed him to purchase locks for the bikes, as well as tools to refurbish them to help homeless veterans without transportation.

Thirty-three bikes have already been given to homeless veterans, including Reggie, while others have been used for parts when deemed beyond salvage.
Reggie said not having a car during his week of living homeless really gave him a better understanding of how difficult it is for the homeless to apply for employment, go to the grocery store and medical appointments as well as look for housing.
“Bikes make it easier,” Reggie said.
“Transportation is a big issue in Indianapolis,” Mark said. “And employment is essential for Reggie. He’s not housed in the middle of town and so his bike has cut his commute from a one hour and 20 minute walk to a 20 minute bike ride.”
Mark said the criteria for a homeless veteran to receive a bike is that they need to be able to prove veteran status and have housing issues.
“Then when they don’t need it (bike) anymore, they can give it back,” said Mark, who in turn can give the bike to another homeless veteran without transportation.
Mark said it can take anywhere from days to months for a homeless veteran to get a job depending on an individual’s circumstances. He’s thankful for generous donors and hopes to receive more bikes. To donate a bike to HVAF, contact Volunteer Coordinator Robin Close at (317) 951-0688.

HVAF also accepts monetary donations.  Donate online at

Veteran learns to combat alcoholism

Timothy had the courage to fight back against veteran alcoholism — a personal fight for him. After hitting rock bottom, he rose up and now wants to give back to other veterans.
The U.S. Navy veteran says his propensity for alcohol was heightened in the Navy where he would stop at bars at each pier - booze was always around.

“I came out of the Navy an alcoholic and I also had also some PTSD from sexual assault that wasn’t diagnosed until 20 years after my service,” adds Timothy.

The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center reports that nearly 13 percent of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan from 2006 to 2008 were referred to counseling for alcohol problems after their post-deployment health assessments. That’s a significant portion of deployed forces coming back to face alcohol problems.

After completing his service, Timothy worked as a finance manager, but his dependency on alcohol affected his work.

“And then I traded one drug for another and began using cocaine and it cost me my home and family,” says Timothy.

In 1986, Timothy enrolled in a recovery treatment program but eventually relapsed. For three decades he was in and out of recovery programs.

He came to HVAF in May 2016. The program worked and he slowly began to rebuild his life.

“You make progress each time. I am 55 years old and each time you make progress. Every time I had relapsed it was because I had stopped doing the things I was supposed to be doing like going to meetings, church and visiting family. When you give up that support – you are doomed.”

“Support groups are very critical to recovery,” says Timothy’s Case Manager, Shawnita Yarbro. “And to show the veteran that you genuinely care about their well-being and overall success is key.”

Today, Timothy is thriving. He is housed and has been clean and sober for six months. He receives VA disability and is working to pay off his debts and eventually move into permanent housing. He serves as a mentor for other veterans by routinely telling his story and offering hope.

Donor spotlight

Michael H. Rodriques of Simon Construction Group hosted his 50th birthday party in June which in lieu of gifts was a fundraiser for HVAF. He raised close to $1,000.

“Veterans issues have been a huge concern for me for a long time,” says Michael. “I often reflect on the sacrifice veterans have made (and continue to make) for us to secure the lifestyle, freedom and culture we enjoy in this country and we don't do enough to support them after they return from often horrific experiences.”

Michael then decided to volunteer at HVAF in the food pantry, sorting and stocking donations.

His help didn’t stop there.

To help promote and raise awareness for the 12th annual Veteran Stand Down hosted by HVAF his company sponsored billboard advertisements at a value of $1,500.

Additionally, Michael is working with HVAF employment specialists to place qualified veterans in positions available throughout the SIMON portfolio.

“There is no reason with the resources available to us that any veteran should be left behind,” adds Michael. “We, as a collective community, need to do a better job of supporting them.”

Michael says his goal is to continue to help HVAF in any way he can.