With the recent wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, our country has seen a surge in the number of veterans who become homeless. With such an immediate, fresh need for housing for those who have served, it is easy to overlook the fact that there are older generations of veterans who are still dealing with the after-effects of their service. Despite tours of duty that ended decades ago, these individuals still deal with the physical, mental and emotional toll their time in the military took on them.
Jeff is one of these people. During the Vietnam War, Jeff was a member of an Army Infantry unit that saw extensive combat. Despite this, Jeff was never seriously wounded. At the end of the war, he came home and began working as a lathe operator. He got married, had children and did his best to adjust to civilian life. Although he was mostly successful, Jeff suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For many years, he was able to manage his disability, and continued to work. After his wife passed away in 2010, Jeff became depressed and his PTSD intensified.
Although he was only a few years away from retirement, Jeff could no longer work. After several months with no income, Jeff's savings ran out. His children lived out of state and he became homeless. It was at this point that he turned to Housing Forward. Jeff began staying in the PADS Shelter a few nights a week, but wasn't interested in engaging with the outreach specialists. After several months, he began opening up, and the outreach staff connected him with Project WISH, a housing program for single veterans. Jeff qualified for an apartment, and moved in. His housing case manager worked with him on his mental health issues, and was able to convince him to get involved with services provided through Hines VA. Although Jeff continues to deal with PTSD, he has progressed to the point where he is now working a part-time job to keep busy, and is optimistic about his future.