Homeless veteran who once lived on $133 a month finds his way again
Donell Marzett, 59, served in the U.S. Army during significant international conflicts. Now, he’s helping other veterans face and win some of the toughest battles of their lives. He doesn’t talk about his time in service, but he is a proud soldier who followed in the footsteps of his father and two uncles by choosing a career in the infantry.
“When I was in the Army, I always had a feeling of purpose, but when I got home I felt as though I lost that purpose and had to find my way again. I was so used to the structure that the military provides and civilian life seemed jarring. I was trying to figure out where I fit in and what sort of career to enter,” said Donell.
When his service ended, Donell’s hardships began. Depression soon followed.
Donell suffered from anxiety and turned to drugs before ending up at the VA Hospital following an attempted suicide. For two years, he lived in an abandoned house in Terre Haute leaning on the skills he learned in the military. He relied on external sources of heat to stay warm.
Then, things got worse. In 2010, he was arrested by the U.S. Marshalls for child support payments and spent eight days in jail and was sentenced to four years of probation.
“After my arrest I had to start all over again, and for several months I lived on $133 a month,” said Donell.
It was then he returned to Indianapolis where the majority of his service providers are located and in 2015 Donell came to HVAF for housing. Once housed, he enrolled and completed classes in mental health services and sobriety at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
His Case Manager, Doneeka Gunn, at HVAF helped connect him with services.
“I have watched Donell go through some of life’s most challenging times and then relish in the good times,” says Case Manager Doneeka Gunn. “He did not give up. HVAF was with him every step of the way in providing him with the resources that he needed to get him on his feet.”
Today, Donell works as a talent engagement specialist at WorkOne. He is ready to give back by helping veterans who were once in his shoes. His future goals include moving into his own home, purchasing a car, and continuing his commitment to his job.