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Dewayne’s soft, thoughtful eyes show the hard struggles he has gone through but he has found his way of of homelessness.
Born in Indianapolis, Dewayne, who is now in his early 60’s, moved in with friends while he got back on his feet. For years, Dewayne struggled with intermittent homelessness. In 1973, Dewayne completed high school and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps where he served during the time of the Vietnam Conflict.
“I come from a long line of family who served in the military but no one served in the Marines and I was interested in protecting our country,” he said. “My Mother initiated a meeting with a recruiter. After the meeting I packed my bags and left 30 days thereafter. My life changed that quickly.”
Dewayne completed basic training in South Carolina, served at the Marines Corps Supply Center in Georgia and then traveled overseas which was his first time leaving his native home of Indiana. After serving in the military, Dewayne enrolled in college in Indianapolis but says he became involved in drugs which played a part in his homelessness.
How many homeless veterans are there?
Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 47,725 veterans are homeless on any given night.
Dewayne says his life had not always been a series of bad choices.
“Depression played a large part in my struggles,” says Dewayne.
In January 2015, he came to HVAF for help and was introduced to Case Manager Mark Lykins and learned about services and programs offered to veterans. With assistance from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program he received assistance with rent and food.
|Dewayne at HVAF
Dewayne also found a place where he could check email, build his resume and apply for jobs. He joined a local gym where he could shower and use laundry facilities. He used skills developed in the Marines to persevere.
Looking back on his days living on the streets Dewayne recalls, “It’s horrible. You disconnect from everything. You think about where you may get your next meal. You stay busy.” But, over the months HVAF has become a foundation for Dewayne as he and staff members worked together to change the trajectory of his life. Dewayne credits his case manager at HVAF who helped him along the way.
He is currently employed and is working as a floor care technician for the VA. He has also reconnected with family and loved ones. He pays his success forward to the homeless veteran community he was once a part of. He has moved into a duplex in the Maple Fall Creek area.