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Tough reality of life after war
After serving in the military for 10 years, Army veteran Andre felt ready for civilian life.
Although people tried to help him with his transition out of the military, he thought he didn’t need any help.
“You are stubborn and think you can handle it,” Andre said. “Before I knew it, the drugs and the alcohol were right there.”
Andre relied on drugs and alcohol as he dealt through his pain: missing his fellow soldiers who died in battle and wondering if he should have served longer. He spent 20 years abusing substances. Finally – he had his wake up call and received treatment at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Indianapolis.
“I started looking at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize me anymore. And I didn’t like who I became,” Andre said. “I had to change my legacy. But I’m just glad I woke up before it was too late.”
Finding HVAF – and love
After his time at the VA, he experienced a relapse. Then he found himself at Wheeler Mission, where he met someone who told him about HVAF. Once he found out about how HVAF serves homeless and at-risk veterans, he came to the headquarters to sign up for help. An hour later – he received a call saying there was a bed for him at Moreau Veterans Villa Apartments.
He lived at HVAF’s apartments for a few months in 2017 and found sobriety again. After some time, Andre found a job and his own apartment. There – he met his wife, Carmen.
“It’s amazing how God had our paths come together,” Andre said. “I owe it all to Him and to her.”
Asking for help
Last year – when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit – Andre and Carmen fell behind on rent and utility payments. Andre tried everything to earn more money, including donating plasma, since he did not want to ask for help.
“I don’t like asking for help. If I’m a man, I’m going to do what I need to do,” Andre said. “I did everything I could possibly do to keep our lights on. But here we are.”
Rapid Rehousing Case Manager Sara has been working with Andre and Carmen for a few months now. She calls him weekly to see how they’re doing and how she can help. In addition, she has helped them receive rent and utility assistance, referred them to our partners at Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic to help get items expunged from his record, and connected him to our mental health experts to receive some counseling.
“Sara is our angel,” Carmen said. “She was so pleasant, so polite, so warm. She has a beautiful heart.”
Sara said she felt motivated after seeing how hard they have worked to get back on track.
“While they appreciate this help, they are ready to do things on their own,” Sara said. “Seeing that is just very heartwarming.”
“I just thank God for you guys and what you’re doing,” Andre said.
We know we cannot help veterans and their families get back on track with their lives without your support. Thank you for helping our #HoosierHeroes get off of the streets and into a life of self-sufficiency!