A soft drizzle hit the brim of Danny’s hat as he walked through a puddle of the parking lot towards where he used to live at Manchester Apartments, a supportive housing property provided to homeless veterans by HVAF. After experiencing homelessness for 7 years Danny isn’t letting rain get in his way. Just two years before, he stood at the same corner with only a 10-speed bike and a black trash bag.
Danny with HVAF Case Manager Jerrika Pence
Danny joined the US Army in 1981 and completed basic training at Ft. Campbell. He served in Korea for 14 months but he never imagined how difficult it would be transitioning home from service. Once at home, Danny worked for the tree trimming company his family owned but after a job-related accident he was met with setbacks. He describes those days as hazy and the years turned into “one continuous party” marked by drinking alcohol.
Danny eventually could not pay for food and rent anymore and became a familiar face among homeless service providers offering shelter (Wheeler Mission) groceries (food stamps).He regularly lugged his bike throughout the city for services.
“I told God that I needed his help,” he says. “I told him I was ready to walk away from the booze and the drugs.”
In 2014, Danny says he got his life back on track. He quit alcohol and drugs cold turkey and called HVAF for housing and the next day he packed his belongings and left Martinsville and headed to Indianapolis where he moved into the HVAF’s Manchester Apartments and worked with Case Manager Jerrika Pence. Tree trimming took a backseat. His dreams of returning to work was on a hiatus.
Once Danny had a roof over his head he wanted nothing more but to return to work. He attended several career fairs before accepting a job in landscaping. He also enrolled in the Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program through the VA where he will complete two months of a paid training program in supply and housekeeping work which is designed to help veterans become more marketable in the workplace.
Last month, Danny moved out of HVAF housing and into permanent housing but he is still receiving help from HVAF through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. The program has helped Danny with employment referrals; deposits on both his housing and utilities; a new bed; moving services; and referrals to outside agencies to assist with furnishing his apartment.
“The improvements that I have seen with Danny stem from his attitude and outlook on life,” says HVAF Case Manager Jason Murrey. “Danny has defined a purpose and acknowledges that a lot of the troubles he experienced were self-inflicted and could have been avoided if he asked for help. And he credits the help from HVAF as being the hand-up that assisted with putting him back on his feet.”
Danny isn’t letting his past slow him down and sees that there is light at the end of the tunnel.