Six in Six - Week Two: A Veteran's Story
My name is Michael. I am a Marine. I served from 1989 to 1994 and was in Desert Storm. In 1992, I was in an accident involving a 5-ton military truck that flipped over, killed 3 fellow Marines and severely injured my left knee. I consider myself very lucky to have survived.
From the time I got out of the Marines until 2006 I bounced around from job to job and never really had a steady place to live. When I finally found a good job I decided to settle down and buy a house and a car. Then in March of 2007 I re-injured the same knee and within 5 months I had lost my house and had my car repossessed; on my birthday of all days.
I moved in with my parents and got in touch with Bob Williamson at the Durham VA. I was told the fastest way for me to be seen by a doctor was for me to be on my own, homeless so I moved to Raleigh into the South Wilmington Street Shelter. I was there for sixteen long months. Several great things happened to me while I was there.
One, I found a primary care doctor and a psych doctor and was then diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, from the accident I was in. This was the first I had ever heard of this illness and how it had been affecting me for over 15 years. This allowed me to file for VA disability. The second big thing to happen was I met then Senator Barrack Obama while he was running for President and had the chance to ask him what he planned on doing to help homeless Vets. He talked about housing and a few other things but I was so enamored with the fact I had just met the next President of the US I cannot tell you all he said.
My case manager, John, helped me locate an apartment I could afford once I was approved for my disability, at DHIC’s Lennox Chase. Here I have found a home where I can thrive and be a successful member of society. If it were not for DHIC and Lennox Chase I am not sure I would have ever have found a place as nice as this to call home.
Since my time at South Wilmington Street Shelter I have been blessed to work with other homeless Veterans through my job at the Durham VA and brand new program called Veterans Supported Employment. We help Vets who are part of the Homeless Program at the Durham VA and VA’s around the US, to find employment. I was blessed to have help along my journey and am now able to help others get past this time in their lives.
If there is someone out there who does not believe in low-income housing let them go spend one white- flag night at South Wilmington Street shelter, you will be amazed at what you will think afterwards. Mine is but one story, I have seen a greater need for low-income housing in the last few years, please help if at all possible. Organizations like the North Carolina Housing Coalition help make sure low-income and affordable housing is possible.