Each veteran who walks through the doors of the Residential, Employment, Substance Abuse Treatment program known as REST opens up to share a part of his past with Social Worker Curtis Williamson. Whether they have experienced bouts of joblessness, untreated illnesses, or addiction, they all have experiencedchronic homelessness.
Curtis Williamson (left) with HVAF clients
With the support of Curtis and the REST program, these former soldiers are able to surmount challenges and re-enter the workforce after military service and/or find permanent housing.
At a recent recovery program graduation one man said he slept under a bridge until he got the help he needed. He got help at HVAF under Curtis’s guidance. The veterans who tell their storiesof completing the program speak with clarity, pride and wisdom. They leave the program changed.
Curtis graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and went on to complete his Master’s in Social Work from IUPUI. In May 2013, he joined the staff at HVAF,working with REST Coordinator Fred Young in helping 22 veterans at a time who are in recovery.
“My grandfather was a homeless veteran – it was intermittent and he struggled for years so it’s very meaningful to do what I do,” says Curtis.
Curtis who is originally from Tennessee adds that HVAF’s 12-step recovery is a dedicated 6 monthsof working with a sponsor and ultimately completing 58 homework assignments. He says the intensive recovery programholds veterans accountable for their actions while supporting them.
“I enjoy connecting veterans with services that are available to them whether it is primary, or mental health care and if they are not eligible for insurance I help get them signed up and with those barriers eliminated we are able to focus on recovery,” says Curtis. “It’s a really good feeling to know that when a veteran calls you and tells you how they are doing and you hear the program has worked for them and they are now self-sufficient – you have made a difference. Andweencourage veterans to find something that they are passionate about and re-focus energy.”
In his spare time Curtis enjoys walking his dog, a pit-bull mix, Mae, and reading or painting.