A harvest that goes a long way in the lives of homeless veterans

Big thanks to everyone from Defense Finance and Accounting Service - DFAS and Brandywine Creek Farms who came on Saturday, July 29 to help harvest tomatoes. It's reported that over 800lbs of tomatoes were picked and donated to us. We are very thankful!


Veteran in Boone County gets relief from HVAF

Charles with new bike provided for by HVAF
Charles has always known that he wanted to travel the world. That was the main reason he joined and served the U.S. Navy from 1979 – 1983. Spain and Greece were some of his favorite locations, but he enjoyed being able to travel in general. Charles held a job in navigation on Aircraft Carrier, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower during his time in the Navy. Charles finished his service in 1983 and things were going well for him - until 2002.

His heart problems began 15 years ago. He went to the doctor and was informed that he had two silent heart attacks. Shortly after, he had his first major heart attack. Charles has since had seven bypass surgeries and can no long work. He went from having a steady job and paycheck to virtually nothing. He now barely survives on disability. After being unable to work, he lost his wife, car, and eventually everything else. Charles managed to scrape enough money to afford a trailer. However, the trailer was in bad condition and the pipes were breaking from rust. Enough was enough for Charles.

Three months ago, he reached out to HVAF for assistance with rent and finding a suitable place to live. HVAF helped Charles find a place in Lebanon, and paid his first month’s rent and security deposit. He also received a bike from HVAF. “The bike really helps me out,” said Charles. “It helps me get to all my doctor appointments and get exercise as well!” Without HVAF’s assistance Charles might not be around today. “I would probably be homeless or dead,” said Charles. “I take insulin that has to be refrigerated. It wouldn’t have been good if HVAF didn’t help.” Charles is thankful for all HVAF has done to improve his life.

Veteran success story

When Ray was a child, he was more interested in playing solider than cowboys and Indians. When he turned 27 he decided to join the National Guard and turned his childhood playtime into a reality. Ray served in the Indiana National Guard from 1987-1989, and the National Guard at Desert Storm in 1992. Ray liked being part of a “well-oiled” group. “There is nothing like hearing the steps of soldiers in perfect time,” said Ray. From his twin brother to his uncles and now his son, a passion for serving their country runs in Ray’s family. However, being in the National Guard took an emotional toll on Ray. He dearly missed his family, and struggled being away from his late wife who had multiple sclerosis.

Years later, Ray left Alabama and returned to his hometown of Indianapolis, but had nowhere to go. For an entire year, Ray couch-surfed and resorted to sleeping in parks when a couch wasn’t available. Ray continued doing this until the beginning of 2016, when a friend of his mentioned HVAF. Within a week of coming to HVAF, Ray was placed in housing and finally found a place to call home. Ray moved from HVAF housing into his own house with his daughter, granddaughter and grandson this past May. Thanks to many people at HVAF, Ray’s life has drastically improved since he first returned to Indianapolis. 

Volunteer spotlight

On April 23, 1967, an 18-and-a-half-year-old Eva Yackey came to America from Communist Hungary. She joined her father, a WWII veteran, who had become a Hungarian Freedom Fighter in 1956. He was sentenced to death for his resistance to the Communists in 1957, and that’s when he knew he had to flee the country. Eva says “I have our United States military veterans to thank for keeping this country safe, and providing me with the opportunities I have as a citizen.” With her strong feelings toward U.S. veterans, she decided to take action and give back to those who helped improve her life.

Yackey first approached HVAF in January of 2016 on behalf of American Legion Post 145 whose previous representative had passed away. She was given a tour of the facility and immediately knew she had to replace the carpet to laminate flooring. She wanted to give back to HVAF and started raising money for the organization. Eva discovered that the local hospital was throwing away trucks filled with linens. She wanted the linens to be repurposed and to be meaningful in a new way. She delivered the linens to HVAF and started to further understand the needs of veterans. When Eva found out HVAF was in need of bicycles for veterans, she took immediate action. Eva and her husband, a Vietnam veteran, have collected and donated over 20 bicycles to HVAF.

By marrying a veteran, Eva learned how terribly some are treated after they return from service. “I have everything I need, but they [veterans] don’t,” said Yackey. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t enjoy the freedom and the wealth I have.” This is why she volunteers. Eva Yackey is an incredible woman who continuously improves veterans’ lives. We at HVAF of Indiana are blessed to have her as a member of our team. Without people like Eva, HVAF would not be able to assist as many veterans as it does. Thank you, Eva!

Watch this video to learn the impact volunteers have on HVAF.

Veteran improves quality of life with help from HVAF

Ronald didn’t necessarily plan on joining the military. He received a football scholarship from IU and enjoyed the party scene IU Bloomington offers. Ronald says he enjoyed the party scene a little too much. As a result, he lost his scholarship and had to move back home with his parents. Ronald’s father, who also served in the military, was disappointed with his son’s actions. “He wanted me to focus,” said Ronald. His father thought the Army would help him become more focused and disciplined.

Ronald’s father encouraged him to join the Army. “It’s the best thing he ever did,” said Ronald. He served in the Army from 1979 – 1982, and was stationed in Fort Lee, VA. Ronald was a petroleum supply specialist. A few of his responsibilities included checking for contaminated fuel, issuing and dispensing fuels, and operating equipment that uses petroleum. Ronald says that the Army did help him become a more focused individual. After finishing his work with the military, he took on various warehouse roles as well as conducting night audits at hotels for 10 years. In 2003, he says things took a turn for the worse.

Ronald and his wife ended their marriage that year. Ronald says this lead him to become unfocused, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and eventually becoming homeless. “I’ve heard people always say, ‘You’re only one step away from homelessness,” said Ronald. “When I became homeless it stunned me, and made me realize anyone can become homeless.” After five years of on-again, off-again homelessness, Ronald turned to HVAF for help. He met with HVAF’s Employment Specialist, Kevin Hillman, and is now employed at IndyGo. “If it wasn’t for HVAF, I don’t know where I would be,” said Ronald. “HVAF gave me the stability I needed.” Ronald currently lives in one of HVAF’s housing properties, has a stable job, and is currently saving to move into his own place. 

Watch this video and find out how Ronald improved his quality of life.

Employment partnership helps veterans at HVAF

Jonathan Hunter first heard about HVAF through its Employment Specialist, Kevin Hillman. The two met at a job fair and chatted for a little bit. Jonathan was looking for more employees at Two Men and a Truck, and Kevin knew of veterans looking for a job. The two decided to partner up and help each other out.

Jonathan has attended both of HVAF’s veteran-only job fairs. He informs HVAF’s veterans what Two Men and a Truck are looking for in potential employees. “Strong work ethic, punctuality and leadership abilities make you a good candidate,” said Jonathan. “I usually inform potential employees of the lifting requirements as well.” Jonathan is still looking for more help at Two Men and a Truck, and currently has “Moving” and “Driving” positions available. Two Men and a Truck holds open interviews every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. Veterans are to bring their résumés and interviewing skills to any three of these locations:

·         11787 Technology Dr., Fishers, IN
·         5777 Decatur Blvd., Indianapolis, IN
·         1365 Sadlier South Circle Dr., Indianapolis, IN