Matt T. was 23 years old when he entered the U.S. Army for the opportunity it provided him to attend college. After leaving the military, Matt worked as Deputy Assessor at the Washington Township Assessor’s Office in Indianapolis. It was after accepting a job transfer to Evansville, Indiana, which took him far from family and friends, that depression began to consume Matt.
Matt with his medal
“I felt like a lonely man on an island,” he says.
Alcohol addiction led to job loss. During his last week of employment, Matt’s boss told him about HVAF of Indiana, its substance abuse recovery program and housing services. Two weeks after moving into HVAF, Tucker was introduced to Back on My Feet, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping the homeless and other underserved populations build independence and self-sufficiency using the discipline of distance running.
“I began just walking with the group and then I started doing the walking/jogging and participated in the Bulldog Butler 5K,” says Matt, who most recently ran in the 8K race offered as a part of the Carmel Marathon in April.
“This is the first time in 50 years that I don’t need someone to give me a pat on my back or give me approval,” says Matt. “I know understand my self worth, and that really is a positive impact on my self-esteem,” says Matt.
While running with Back on My Feet, Matt met another HVAF client, Ray P., a 27-year-old Marine Corps veteran.
Ray running the Carmel Marathon
Ray’s childhood dream was to join the Marines. After serving for 5 years, Ray landed a job as a civil engineer but was spending long hours in the office. He says his marriage suffered as a result, and he also started drinking heavily. Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs he was referred to HVAF of Indiana for help with housing.
At HVAF, Ray worked not only to improve his mental strength but physical toughness. Ray joined the Back on My Feet running group at HVAF, initially running 5K and 8K races. It was at this year’s Carmel Marathon that he would run his first marathon, a race of 26.2 miles.
Both Ray and Tucker trained together for their Carmel Marathon events, pushing each other to succeed.
“It felt great crossing the finish line, and it was an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment for both of us,” Ray says.