Paul is a U.S. Army Veteran who served in the Vietnam era from 1975 to 1978. Shortly after he left the military, he moved to Washington D.C. where he went to college, met his wife and raised two kids.
Everything in his life seemed fine and was going normally until all of his scars from battle caught up to him.
“For years, I always knew that something wasn’t right. I would have nightmares and flashbacks, but I never told anyone about it or thought to seek help. I didn’t deal with it until after it was too late,” he says.
In an attempt to ease the pain and mask the symptoms from what he now knows as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Paul started to drink heavily. His substance abuse caused his life to spiral out of control until he eventually lost his job and separated from his family.
“I turned to life on the streets and I felt like I was invisible,” he says. “You already know you’re at the bottom of society and it affects you spiritually, mentally and physically. People look at you a certain kind of way. Not knowing what you’ve been through or what you’ve accomplished. They just look at you as homeless.”
Paul found out about a VA Clinic where he received treatment and started a cycle of going in and out of programs for several years before he decided to move to Florida.
After a checkup at the Veterans Affairs hospital one day, he met a representative who helped him secure housing through the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program.
“I was very happy and stayed there for five years until I had another severe PTSD episode,” he says. “The nightmares came back and I stopped taking my medication. I checked myself in the hospital to receive the help that I needed.”
His social worker referred him to the Coalition where he’s currently part of the Contracted Emergency Residential Services (CERS) program for veterans. Paul and his case manager are working together to navigate the process to get back into the VASH program.
“I’m very grateful for the Coalition. I couldn’t get half the stuff I need to get done on my own and it’s because of this place that I have hope once again.” Paul says.
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