Homeless veteran gets help with housing

Earl at HVAF
“The first time I realized I wanted to protect and serve my country was in High School. I was in ROTC, but my grades were suffering. The Army was my ticket out. Also my uncle, Cecil, served in WWII and drove the M4 Sherman tank and that was another piece of inspiration. I admired Cecil.” 

Earl served in the U.S. Army when militant students supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolution stormed the U.S Embassy in Tehran and took scores of hostages.

Earl was injured during service and 70 percent of his body was burned. He suffered from PTSD as a result. He is still seeing psychologists today and takes medication daily.

Earl became homeless as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after his service. Homelessness struck when he fell on hard times. Earl turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. His tendencies, he says, caused a strain on his family and other relationships, and he was left with a pile of child support bills that grew larger and larger, and so did the medical bills. Earl has been in and out of jail 12 times because of his inability to pay child support. He also struggled to find employment.

He turned to HVAF for help. He completed the organization’s recovery program on March 7, 2017 and currently resides in our transitional housing.

Earl is an inspiration in what a veteran can accomplish against all odds.

Army veteran lands job

Ronda in housing
Ronda F. made a near 19-year career out of serving her country. Almost eight years of that time was active duty.  Ronda married and had 4 children ages 2-8. She says she endured mental and emotional abuse from her then husband. She knew she had to escape. Ronda had an associate’s degree but wanted to get her bachelor’s degree. Higher education is one of the many bonuses and perks of serving her country, so she did just that.

She worked in many areas of the US Army, but one of the most rewarding work she experienced was her role as Awards Clerk for NATO. She learned a lot about herself. She was able to spend time with the Joint Force Headquarters in Pristina, Kosovo and met with them once every two weeks. Being able to meet high-ranking people like colonels and majors was an honor and privilege. She never would have dreamed she would be doing such important work and accomplish so much in 7 months. The networking opportunities were “enlightening.”

However, Ronda says she wasn’t making a lot of money and her home life was suffering. She left her husband for fear of the relationship becoming volatile. Ronda had heard of HVAF. “In many ways, HVAF provided me a sense of security—not knowing where you’re going to live is frightening. Other helpful programs, financial planning for instance, is helping me get my own finances in order.” Dorian LaMotte, Ronda’s case manager, is in contact with Ronda every day. Alberta Platt, Ronda’s employment specialist, found Ronda a job in one day. Alberta had contacts with Bluegreen Resort and there was an interview and job hire the same day. “I’m very appreciative of that,” said Ronda.

HVAF has been helping Ronda with rent on her new beloved home. 

Volunteer spotlight

“Years ago, [we] saw a need to help the homeless veterans, and we wanted to share the wealth and help them. We knew we could not help them every day but around holidays when life may get lonely,” said Mary Aurtrey. Mary is the Network Director of NAFE/ Women in Networking (WIN) and she strives to make sure her organization is philanthropic. Veteran organizations, like HVAF, are highly regarded to the organization she says. Mary, herself, served in the US Army from 1969-1991. NAFE/WIN has provided meals by Cracker Barrel and served them to HVAF veterans around Easter and Thanksgiving time. They have also participated in clothing drives. NAFE/ WIN believes the benefits of helping veterans are seeing those same veterans eventually help themselves. The organization likes to see the results of what the veterans do with their lives after they leave HVAF. Sharing stories is a way of changing a person’s life. “HVAF has been dear to my heart. Not only because I’m a veteran, but because I enjoy helping others who cannot help themselves. My goals are to prevent homelessness and hunger,” said Mary.

Veteran lands job after receiving employment assistance

Jeff with Kiara Walker at HVAF
“I thought it would be a good decision to serve. I was living in Michigan and they were closing all the factories, and I couldn’t afford college,” said Jeffery F. The military was a good experience for Jeffery. He traveled to Germany for two years and worked as a combat engineer.

Jeffery received an Army Honorable Discharge on August 10, 1988 and rode cross country on his motorcycle from Michigan to Oregon where he started working. Later, he returned to Michigan to study mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan.

Last summer, Jeffery’s apartment complex was under new management, and they evicted elderly and disabled people… he was one of those people. He was homeless for three months. Jeffery slept outside a few nights at Pleasant Run Golf Course, while other nights he stayed in a hotel.

He heard about HVAF through his VA case manager. At HVAF, Jeffery met Employment Specialist, Kiara Walker. Kiara and Jeffery had been looking for meaningful employment for roughly five months before he gained a stable job at Scotty’s Brewhouse. “He would meet with me every Wednesday at 2:00 pm like clockwork. He never once missed an appointment. Our luck finally changed one week when he was offered not one but two positions that are both in his field of culinary. He was a cook in the military- sergeant in the Army –Food service Specialist,” adds Kiara. 

Veteran gets a new start

Schon P. began serving in the Navy in 1988. He always dreamed of traveling to different places and wanted to serve his country. One of Schon’s favorite experiences about being in the military was Basic Training in San Diego. “It was fun, he said. Kind of like mind games.” Being away from home was hard for Schon. He missed his friends and family and being in familiar places.

Schon had been sleeping on the streets in Evansville for two years. He says he was addicted to drugs and didn’t have a job, license or car. A friend of Schon’s paid another friend $120 to drive Schon up to Indianapolis where he would go to rehab. The friend bought him a nice dinner and paid for the hotel room that night. Schon was dropped off at Fairbanks Alcohol & Drug Addiction Treatment Center the next morning.

While in Indy, Schon started asking around about organizations that helped veterans and found HVAF. He is very thankful for everything HVAF has done. “I’ve come a long way since living on the streets.” He worked with Kevin Hillman, HVAF’s employment coordinator. Schon has been saving up money to buy a car. He believes he will be moving out of HVAF’s Moreau housing fairly soon and into his own place. In February 2017, Schon started working at 3M in Indianapolis. He is thankful for a fresh start.

Upcoming event - Volunteer to raise funds for HVAF

Join the Knights of Columbus Post #5290 and VFW Post # 7119 and #261 as they raise money and awareness for HVAF. PatriotFest will be held on June 17 at the VFW Post # 7119 on 6535 N. Lee Road from 2 p.m.- 12 a.m. There will be food, live music, activities and prizes - a great way to spend your Saturday afternoon. Also, a car show will take place from 12:00 p.m.- 2:30 p.m. If you want to show-off your car, registration is from 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. People’s Choice Award will be given to the top five cars. The entry fee is $10 and non-perishable food items. For more information, call Micah Sutton (317) 829- 4258 or Danny Lesley (317) 701-7883.

Veteran makes strides through HVAF employment services

Lew at HVAF
Lew served in the Air Force from 1986-1990. As a young adult, he was looking for direction in his life and thought what better way than to serve his country. He was a part of the MAC Military Airlift Command. After finishing up his military duty, Lew worked to get his BA in Marketing and minored in Economics. After college, he worked for General Electric, Stuart Warner and a few other companies and found a “knack” for sales. After going through a rough time of divorcing his wife and losing his father, Lew turned to alcohol. He had three DUIs and eventually got into an accident in which, luckily, no one was hurt. He spent three years in prison. He reached out to HVAF in 2013, one of the lowest years of his life. 

“When I was going through the rocky 3 years [2013-2016] of my life, I needed a place to stay and I was trying to figure out how I’m going to do this. I have a good support system with family, but found strong support from HVAF,” Lew said.

Lew believes he would be in a day shelter if it wasn’t for the excellent staff at HVAF. HVAF Employment Specialist Kiara Walker assisted Lew in finding the job he has now. “Lew had a vision of where he wanted to work and the salary he felt would be a livable wage. He did not give up until he felt all of his needs were satisfied. I enjoyed working with Lew,” says Kiara. Lew currently works for Dickinson Fleet Services as the Purchasing Assistant in which he finds great purpose.

Homeless veteran finds permanent housing with help from HVAF

Tom, 59, served in the Air Force from 1977-81. The California native liked working on airplanes. On October 6, 2006, life as he knew it changed. Tom was hit by a bus on the streets of Indianapolis. He spent 6 months at the VA hospital and had 3 operations. He lost his left leg and is confined to a wheelchair. He spent 2 years in a nursing home. He couldn’t find work and he became homeless. HVAF’s Outreach Worker Rodney Jackson talked to him about the programs and services our organization has to offer. It took time to build trust.

Once Tom was ready to come in from the elements, we provided him a warm bed for the weekend.

“There was still hope in his eyes. He was crying because he had nowhere to go,” said Housing Specialist William Najera about his client, Tom. On Thursday, March 30, Tom ready to come in from off the streets but didn’t want to go into transitional housing. William talked Partners in Housing, who to advocate for Tom. The following Tuesday, Tom was moved in. His eyes watered a bit when signing the lease.  “Seeing Tom from beginning to end was a complete turnaround,” William said.

Tom still faces many battles and demons. The amputee still feels a lot of pain. Physical pain. Emotional pain. He can no longer work at a factory as a forklift operator which he enjoyed for over 3 decades. He struggles to find meaning and purpose in life. His pride is shattered. But for Tom, each day matters. You can hear happiness in his laughter.

Housing service provides relief for one homeless veteran

Frank S. at work
“If you are willing to help yourself, HVAF will help you,” Frank, 52, said. He served in the Marine Corps from June 1983- August 1987.  After serving in the military, he received his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees along with several certifications. Frank landed a job in TSA and traveled to various airports. He was stationed at the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL acting as a Screening Manager. Years later, Frank found himself relocating to Indianapolis. In August 2016 after Frank’s car had been repossessed, he lost his job and began receiving unemployment. Frank says he was unemployed because he was overqualified for the jobs he was applying for. Frank was living in a motel off of Post Road in Indianapolis at the time of researching veteran assistance programs. He discovered HVAF and his life changed. Kalisha Hayes, his housing specialist, helped him with whatever he needed including housing, food and employment assistance. HVAF helped him enroll for VA insurance and now he has proper medical care. He is employed at Caito Foods Services as a Production Supervisor. He lives in HVAF’s Carson Apartments with a goal to move out within 90 days.