This piece right here is on all of the American heroes that has given their lives for their country. Myself, I was in Vietnam. I did my part in that, and this was one way of me trying to express how we all was going for the same cause, no matter year we was in. It was all American soldiers, all American heroes.
In 1964 the United States officially entered the war in Vietnam. The fighting would escalate until half a million U.S. troops would be committed by the end of the decade. Public support at home, while initially overwhelming, rapidly deteriorated, and soldiers became the targets of protests nationwide. For many returning from Southeast Asia, the battle for piece had only just begun.
You come back from any kind of conflict war, whatever, depending on what the experience of that veteran is, the traumatic things that's maybe he's seen--just because it's over, it's not over, and in most cases it's a starter for him.
The problems are complex. For some veterans of Vietnam, the effects of their traumatic experiences would prove too much, driving them to drug or alcohol abuse as a way of dealing with a life that had spiraled out of control.
Stuff that these folks are dealing with, mentally and physically, are really traumatic. They don't want to face life. They've got bad memories. They don't want to face them. They prefer to hide them in drugs and alcohol so that they don't have to face them.
I became homeless back in the early '90s. I didn't have anywhere to go other than the shelters, and when I couldn't go into shelters, I slept wherever I could possibly go; under bridges, and woods, in a tent, in a cardboard box, wherever I could possibly lay my head at.
Today one in three homeless men served in the United States military. On any given night, nearly 200,000 veterans have no place to call home. Since the 1980s, facilities to help homeless veterans have been established in increasing numbers. In 1989, the Homeless Veterans Fellowship in Ogden, Utah began working with what has become thousands of clients, seeing them through the difficulties of homeless life--a painstaking process.
Our job at Homeless Veterans Fellowship is self-sufficiency, is to bring a veteran from homelessness to be off of the streets, able to generate enough income in order to be able to support themselves in a reasonable manner, and have a productive life.
This film documents one year of that effort.
I've always wondered, who sets the standard on what normal is? I had to get me a t-shirt that says, "normal people scare me," or "normal people is why I take medication."
You can stay here up to 18 months to 2 years and receive services from us.
We are, without a doubt, a full-service program. Any needs they have, we offer it.
It's pretty routine. You get up every morning. You sign in over here. You talk to the guys. You have coffee and donuts, and if you have to work, you go to work. No drugs or alcohol.
There's nobody coming in drunk two or three o'clock in the morning because it's strictly outlawed. They will even set you up with certain jobs, you know, around here, or you find your jobs off campus, not as a bartender either.
There's many positive things about this place. There's many positive things, I mean they're not out there checking to see if your bunk is tight or stuff like that, and basically you can't beat the price.
You know the dues are 100 dollars a month, and now I say that my roommate and I live in the penthouse suite.
These people aren't here just as a flop-house overnight. They're here to transition into real life.
That's why you're here, you got problems, you know. See I wasn't diagnosed with mental illness until 1994. I knew I was an alcoholic, but I didn't know I was a nut too, you know, so.
If you don't have money in your pocket, the ace in the hole is not to have money in your pocket and be able to find a place like this, because they're not asking for money. They're asking, "Well, what can we do for you?" How can we help you?" Amen
It's hard in a homeless situation to find work and stuff when you're caught up with daily survival like a place to sleep. Well this takes that worry away from you. You got a nest, or a base to operate out of, or in military stand, you got a base camp, and then you can start looking for a job and ways of self-improvement.
The Homeless Veterans Fellowship is a 35-bed transitional housing facility that assists participants to move from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Its first level of service is a daily drop in center that helps homeless veterans coming in from off the streets.
Well we've got what they call walk-ins, which people that don't live here or stay here, but they're veterans that they can come in and have some coffee and donuts and with the donation things that we have.
I just stopped by for coffee and some bus tokens every now and then. Uh I'm in the process of moving. I don't know where I'll be going, but...
There's a lot of veterans that stop in at the drop-in center. They are homeless, but they're veterans. I don't know if they've already got a place, or there or some of them that I know that are, don't have a bed.
There's always people that do not quite fall in or meet the services that are out there, so what we do is a little additional service. We really intensify our outreach to veterans. If we see a veteran on the street, we engage them. We start to bring them into our drop-in center, and we allow them to come in and get acquainted with us at their own level, or their own ability to access the services, and then we just go from there.
I was living there at a fence by the Ogden River, the big chained fence from the community, and it just happened one evening about 9 o'clock when I was living close to that fence, a fellow walked up to the fence by coincidence and asked me what am I doing here. “Sleeping.” "Don't you have a place?" I said, "No." He said, "Were you in the military?" "Yes."
Conventional wisdom paints the homeless as unskilled, uneducated, and devoid of creative energy, but through its outreach efforts the Homeless Veterans Fellowship has found just the opposite. Nearly twenty years ago, Eugene Morris, an amateur artist, became homeless after being injured on the job. By living on the streets, he and four other homeless men turned an abandoned building in Salt Lake City into a makeshift art studio.
Ya we needed somewhere we could have peace of mind, and really put out on paper and canvas what we could really do.
They called themselves The Crippled Quill, and they operated as long as they could until the building was scheduled for demolition, but before that happened, their artwork caught the attention of the community, and a local news station.
In order to get somewhere in life, no matter what your disability is that you have to actually want to get somewhere other than just a place to hang out at, and I want to get somewhere.
Nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless every night. Causes include low incomes, poor mental and physical health, disabilities, trauma, weak social networks, and malingering effects of high stress situations from military life. Each homeless veteran has a different story, and a complex array of persistent problems.
I've been homeless since 1974 on and off. This is kind of like my last stop, you know.
I mean some guys here, of course, have been homeless forever. You know I lived on a river for 20 years.
I've seen guys on the streets that, I don't know, they have no hope. They don't know what to do, so they just stay drunk, or high or, whatever. My whole life as revolved around drinking. Like if I had 40 dollars in my pocket, and it was zero or lower, and I had to make a decision for a motel room or cigarettes and beer, I'd take the cigarettes and beer and sleep out.
Going into a shelter does not mean you really have to change your behavior. If you're, for instance, if you're addicted to drugs or alcohol and just need a place to stay, you're not required to stop drinking. You can't drink while you're in there, but you can drink all day, go in and sleep, and come back out and drink all of the next day. So you're not changing the behavior. You're not really changing your life. What you're doing is getting yourself a place to sleep. Well what we want them to do is change their behavior and address the issues that got them homeless in the first place.
Sixty percent of the participants at the Homeless Veterans Fellowship have suffered from an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
I'm a recovering alcoholic and a recovering drug addict. I've had a professional life, and there's a term, "functional alcoholic," that is used to describe me.
I always had a bottle in my truck or in my desk or in my toolbox, so I never was shorthanded, and I didn't have a drinking problem.
I made a decision that I was going to quit drinking, just I'm going to quit drinking. Well I did quit drinking, but what I didn't consider was that the anatomical consequences of, you know, drinking a liter of whiskey a day for an extended period of time, that just a few days later, three or four days later, I was hallucinating like a maniac that the pine trees around my house were full of Indians with war-paint and AK47's and K-bar knives. They didn't have bow and arrows. These guys had M-60 machine guns, and I know it sounds bizarre, but the maintenance guy was walking by, and with all of the seriousness that I could muster I opened the sliding glass door and said, "Hey Ricky, when is somebody going to do something about these Indians?" and you know Ricky looked over at me and he said, "Right now," you know "I'm going to do something right now and you just go in, sit on the couch, I'll take care of this right now." Shortly thereafter I look out this sliding glass door and here comes four Salt Lake County sheriff deputies, and the deputy came to the door and said, "Hi Mike, how are you doing?" and I said, "Good, good. Where have you guys been?" And he said, "Have you been drinking?" And I said, "No, I quit drinking." And he goes, "Bla this and ya ya when did you quit drinking?" And I said, "Like four days ago," so they came in my place and the EMT guy took my blood pressure, and he pricked my figure and tested my blood, and then he went off somewhere with one of the sheriff's deputies and you know came back and said, "Which hospital would you like us to take you to?" Now that was two and a half years ago. I'm just now getting back to where I'm employed by the phone company here in Ogden, but it has been a struggle to get back into normal life.
For many of these men, getting off the streets means overcoming an addiction that has lasted for years. Until the individual decides for him-self to throw off the weight of drugs or alcohol, his homelessness is almost guaranteed to persist.
It was a long journey. My drinking, I call it drinking career; it was at a point where I had to drink to get going. I was spiritually, physically, mentally bankrupt in all aspects of life. I didn't care about me, you, anybody. I had to get that bottle.
The addiction itself, you've gone a day and a half, a couple of days without eating anything, and you got that gnarling in your stomach like that, and the only thing that's going to satisfy that is to feed it.
I have, you know, sixty percent of my population would like to go back to using again if they could, and our program is a little different. We really focus on drugs and alcohol is something a person can overcome and remove from their life, and with assistance they can have a whole different life if they want it.
Is it hard? It is. Change is hard. I mean when you're use to doing drugs, alcohol, or a behavior pattern for 20 years, 15 years, the hardest thing to do is change, because you're always so comfortable in the zone you're in that it's so easy to fall back into it because it's what you know.
The only serious person I've ever seen who gave up drinking entirely, they crashed a car like a station wagon, or some other car that has got their whole family in it, and they kill their whole family. Then they either go off the deep end and drink their-self into oblivion, or they never drink again, because they have so much guilt that they associate that drinking with the death of their family. I flipped a car over on in Australia, and that's about the same time I never touched alcohol again.
Part of what happens working with these veterans is that you get to know them and you get understand them and you get to see some of what they've been hiding for so long, and it makes you wonder how their still existing at all sometimes, because some of the stuff that these folks are dealing with, mentally and physically, are really traumatic, and it's what probably finally drove them to be where they are.
Mark Sheldon, drug and alcohol counselor brings first-hand experience to his job at the Homeless Veterans Fellowship.
I've lived a very interesting life. I've got 15 years in active military. I worked in the oil field. I played… I made music. I made a living for four years playing in a rock and roll band. The only thing I ever did for a really long time was methamphetamines. I used that for 31 years, so basically you might say I feel like I have a Ph.D. in drug addiction because I spent 31 years doing it. I have a lot of field experience, and once I got in recovery and away from that I realized I could help other people that had those problems.
I was homeless from 2002 until July of 2005 when I was a pretty bad drug addict. When you get down that far you just lose everything, the will to live, you know, and it's really hard to get back on your feet and get a job, and then you try to dig yourself out of that. Without asking for help, it's nearly impossible.
A lot of times the alcoholism and the drug addiction is what made them homeless and got them homeless, and not surprisingly a lot of them have been really successful in a lot of ways for a long time, and then all of a sudden their addiction took over and they lost everything.
You know it took me, what, 13 years to earn a good successful business that took me less than five to lose it all. I got to the point where I didn't care. I didn't want to work. I didn't want to do nothing. I sold antiques, sold this and that. Dad passed away. I went through all of that money. Man it's just, when you get to that bottom where you don't care, it's horrible.
After five months in the program Tom's commitment to change has resulted in progress that he is proud of.
Um I'm back painting with my brother right now. I'm just helping him paint houses and apartments that he does when he gets them, but this time it's different because I'm going to stay working, and that's the main priority besides staying clean. I got two little boys that I spend every Saturday with. It's my favorite day, their favorite day, and that's one of the worse things I miss with my drug addiction is my family. I mean I was using this heavy drug addiction for ten years, this meth, and I don't see how I would have ever got out of it. These people up here, they gave me a chance to build that, and they help build that back up inside me.
There are a lot of different opinions about why people are homeless, so if they're homeless and mentally ill they're the crazies. If they're homeless and addicted they're the druggies, you know the alcoholics, and no wonder they're out there; they're drinking, and people don't look at the factors that got them that way, so our job is to look at them and, just to see that there's a person that needs help.
Hey Steve, this is John Rambo, how are you doing? Good man. Hey, you don't happen to have... I forget the number. I got a guy, what it is he's trying to, I think it's 290 or something; he's trying to get a discharge review... So you have some guys that have drug and alcohol problems, you have a lot of people with mental health issues--some are combat related, some may not be--but at the same time there can be traumatic experiences in their life that carry on with ya.
I wouldn't say that all veterans are in this situation because of being a veteran of war. I mean it's just like you have any tragedy happens in your life, I mean, you know I still remember the day my mother died. I remember the day in 1991 when there was a car accident that took the life of my wife, you know, and two of my children. When I think back on it, it's almost like yesterday, but it was in December of '91 and I think the only way I made it was just the grace of God is the only way. I didn't want to work anymore. I didn't want nothing. I didn't even want to live.
I'd been sick for awhile, and just say I was struggling with money a little bit, and so I just didn't go to the doctor, so my mom and dad and brother came one day and loaded me into my mom and dad's van and took me to the free clinic, and they took x-rays and listened to me, and I was just sitting back in the back and the doctor came back and said, "You have cancer," (like big-time), and didn't give me very long to be around. I cried when my son died. I cried then for about a minute. I don't know I guess I felt sorry for myself probably, but I ended up checking into the hospital right then and they went in through my back and cut it out and boy was I sore for awhile, and then I heard about this and I called and asked them and they said, "ok."
We leave no wounded behind. Well that is not just meaning physically wounded. You can be spiritually and emotionally wounded, and they don't get left behind either.
Yum, yum. I think of this as a home. I mean all the guys, you know, they meet new friends. We interact with society. We're not locked in here, you know, we go out and we have jobs and we have girlfriends, and you know, this is just our home for the time being.
I may not have my family around me, but this is my family.
It's not like being in the Army again, or the military. Everybody that you meet you all got one thing in common--we've all done time in the military.
That commonness amongst us seems to have some bearing on our ability to communicate, on our ability to help, on our ability to motivate them to be better than they are.
You trust your fellow soldier, and you learn to trust them with your life, because they have their job, you have your job, and it all meshes together, and even years later that bond's still there, that's why I think veterans helping veterans is a very unique approach and works, because you understand where they're coming from, and they get a glimpse of you and they know that you've been there.
For veterans of war the events that brought them so close would also be some of their most traumatic.
We can assure every man who wears our uniform that their cause is a good cause, that the battles they are fighting deserve their bravery. To prove that terror and aggression simply will not work, that is a good cause.
The political turmoil of the 1960's that seemed to rise in tandem with the hostilities in Southeast Asia created a climate of frustration and confusion across America. As presidents vowed to stand in Vietnam, public dissatisfaction with the war simmered, then boiled over by the late 1960's.
I served in the Marine Corps I was in "Nam" in '66-'67. I didn't wanted to join the Marine Corps, but see back then they drafted everybody. When you turned 18 you had to join the draft, and the day after graduation we went to San Diego for boot camp. Six months later we were headed over to Vietnam.
It seemed much of America had lost faith in the cause. Returning soldiers, living symbols of public discontent, found themselves the unwitting targets of protesters. For many, their return to the states would prove an anti-climatic nightmare.
Most of the Vietnam vets weren't accepted when they came home. You know, we didn't fight in a popular war, and we just put a heavy burden on our younger men.
We felt like we were betrayed when we came home. A lot of us, like myself included, instead of being proud of our uniform, was kind of ashamed of it, because the way the news media slanted things.
"Baby killers," and they'd spit on us, and they held up signs and stuff. There was no respect like there is today, you know, and we were just doing what our country asked us to do.
I had college teachers who said if you're a Vietnam veteran, do not expect to pass my class.
But there was a lot of damage, psychological damage done to an 18 year old kid that does or does not get out of high school, gets drafted, goes and kills people for two years thinking that he's doing what he's supposed to be doing for his country and comes back and this country turns her back on him. That's, there's psychological damage here.
Today 47% of all homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. They live with a stigma of a war now deemed a military and political embarrassment. For many, their service in such a war carries the same stain.
The Vietnam era veteran, they would rather forget us than to deal with us.
For I'd say 20 or 25 years I literally denied the fact that I was a veteran, that whenever I had an application to fill out where they ask if you, you know, military experience, I would leave it blank.
A lot of Vietnam vets are very leery of the V.A. hospital. A lot of Vietnam vets are leery of this place because it's a power structure, and I didn't go into a V.A. hospital probably, I was probably out of Vietnam 25 years before I stepped foot in one because of the trust level. I didn't, I just didn't trust them. I mean combat is combat. The guys that were in combat in WWII wasn't any different than the guys in Korea, was any different than the guys in Vietnam. The problem was, in that war, a large population of the United States, the people here, took it out on the veteran, and not on the politicians.
That atmosphere contributed to the problem because the environment of battle over there was so horrendous that they were having a hard enough time dealing with their experiences there, and then they come home to a complete lack of support, and it just compounded itself and they ended up where they are.
And you do you have people now, if you're wearing a Vietnam veteran's hat or something like that, they will come up and say, "thank you," you know, for what you did, but for me personally, it's too late. You should have done that back in 1969.
Despite the turbulence of the 1960s, American treatment of veterans has improved over the years. For Veteran’s Day in Ogden, a local Golden Corral offers a free dinner to all veterans.
This is not good. (talking/socializing)
Even today, decades after Vietnam, images of war stir up emotions never far from the surface.
(sounds of bombing/war)
Depending on what the experience of that veteran is, the traumatic things they may have seen, you know, it's not an easy thing. How many hundreds of thousands are wounded in Vietnam, you know fifty some thousand died there, but how many have the psychological scars?
You got to figure the guy that's been in combat has seen things that he would never have thought he'd see in his lifetime, and in some cases they just can't live with what they saw.
Once you've killed somebody, once you've seen your friends kill, once you've carried a guy you've spent nine months with and are really close with, there's psychological damage, you know, and some recover, and some don't.
I saw combat. I've killed. I've seen our guys killed. I experienced this on a first-hand basis. I've since said that I've been involved in what I estimate to be the killing of 50 people.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, was recognized as a major clinical disorder after Vietnam.
Once an individual goes into combat, they're changed forever for the rest of their life.
You know you've been in a conflict, you've been in a war, you've seen atrocities. You never get over it.
One of the most difficult situations that faced returning soldiers was the rapid movement from the complete chaos of battle, to the relative silence of civilian life. For many, the change was too abrupt. A lack of decompression time would lead to later problems.
When I came home from Vietnam, I shot this guy on a Tuesday, and on Friday night I was sitting in my mom and dad's family room.
For many homeless vets, PTSD has greatly compounded their problems, breaking down rational barriers and constantly tormenting them.
Your perimeter, or the area around your fire support base is secured with what's called concertina wire. I had three or four days left in Vietnam. I looked out on the wire and there was a Vietnamese guy. Well me being the season veteran that I was at that point, the decision was immediate and I put my M-16 on this guy and shot him with 18 rounds, then he moved, and I took that magazine out of my M-16 and put another one in, locked and loaded and put another 18 into him, and now days, and for the last 30 some years, I have dreams about that guy, only in my dreams sometimes that guy wins. If that guy gets through the wire, if I'm ambivalent or complacent and not paying attention, why does my mind take that experience and how does my mind let this guy win?
We fought honorably. We were discharged honorably. We did what we were supposed to do. They tell us to turn this on, but nobody ever showed me how to turn it off.
We would very easily be able to camouflage them by a workaholic attitude or alcohol or drugs, or whatever we do to bury this stuff, but all of a sudden stuff don't stay buried anymore.
You are never ever ever going to get over this. There is no cure. It's always going to be there, and as soon as you realize that, and get that through your head and learn how to cope with it, the better off you're going to be.
And does it happen just like that? No, you didn't get a drug problem in one day. You didn't get your PTSD in one day, so it's not going to take one day to cure you. It's not going to... It will probably take a year. It's probably a couple of years. It's a working thing--you got to keep working all the time. I'm still working on it. I'm 57 years old now. I'm still working on it.
You can never give them their mind back, you can never take their innocence and give that back to them and say, "You haven't seen death. You haven't killed anybody." You can't do that. What you can do is make sure that they're needs are met and they're safe, and that's basically all we can do.
Being in this situation has a tendency to make people a little depressed anyway. You know it's depressing to think that you got no family. It's depressing to think that you, after all of these years of working and making big money, you got nowhere to live, you know. It's depressing. You have a tendency to look down on yourself, and then when everyone else looks down on you, it makes everything worse.
So I took my very best outfit down to the dry cleaners right down the street and dropped them off at the dry cleaners and everything, and the lady down there that owns the cleaners said, "Oh hi Mike hey, how you doing?" You know I'm a fairly social guy, and so I talk to everybody, right, I talk to everybody, and I go, "How are you doing?" And she said, "Where do you live anyway?" And I said, "Oh, well I live up at the Homeless Veterans Fellowship." And she said... You know you see her face go from... to...
Unfortunately society, when they go bad, most of them see us as homeless people--homeless vets, you can't trust them, you know, and believe it or not there are people who wont employ them.
Do you sail? And when there's no wind you're just sitting there, and this is what this place is sort of like. Can a person have pride in a position where you're doing nothing? I still apply for jobs, and in my resume, or you fill out your application, you fill it out the past jobs, and I'll list the full thing. I will fill it completely out, and they'll get to that point. They'll go through the job interview-type thing, and one time it went over long distance on him because he started from the back page. It was like 16 pages long, and the thing was up on the second page, and he was talking positive, "Man we got a job for you. We got a job for you. You look like you've got all sorts of mechanical skills and ability." And then he got to that second page, and I could tell. He said, "I'll get back with you all." I says, "You're at a point where it shows I've been in and out of prison for 22 years, about 5 or 6 years ago." He says, "Ya, we can't handle that. There's too many other persons that don't have your baggage." I can't make people change their attitude. I still am not going to give up. I'll still try, but I striked out on my own, and the thing is, I fail, and failing doesn't seem to be... Well it's not acceptable to the rest of society in reality, right? We praise the people who win, and the losers get lost in obscurity.
The homeless population is as diverse as any population. You have the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how our brains stereotype is probably kind of a biological shortcoming that we always have to be careful on. If we see someone who is dirty and disheveled, and we put that to represent all of homelessness, we're really cheating ourselves from what really exists out there.
The stigma of homelessness poses a significant threat to progress. For those veterans who commit themselves, change does come... slowly.
Any homeless veteran or veteran or a person per se itself, the only thing you've got to do is not give up and never say, I can't. Say, I can. I went to Marine Corps boot camp and the instructors put that into us every day, the last four letters of American is ICAN; I can.
If you're doing the best you can, you got no reason to feel guilty anyway. I mean a lot of people don't like bringing religion into the thing, but God loves us and he takes care of all of us. I mean if he takes care of the birds and animals, you know he's going to take care of you, because you know, you have a soul, and there was a sign I saw in Vanderbilt Hospital one time and there was a sign on the wall that says, "Good morning, I am God. I'm going to be taking care of your problems today, and I do not need your help." Because sometimes when we help ourselves, we’ll mess things up.
Well does anybody really want to change? You know we can look at ourselves to realize what kind of challenges anyone's going to have. You know, I could lose 60 pounds, but I'm not going to this year. I can guarantee it, and I should ya, I'd have a better lifestyle, and that's the same for a homeless person. They have to give something up in order to pursue and change, and they have to be willing to pursue that change, and they have to realize the change is what's necessary.
What we find what we're up against is, after years of building character along the lines of survival, it's hard to break that out of a guy in, lets see a few months or six months to a year. You just don't change suddenly.
I started this process in 1992 of trying to get clean. I'd finally had enough. But when you start that process, it's a long process, but people have to understand you didn't get there overnight, so it's going to take, it's going to take some time, and that's where this place has come in. They give people a chance.
There's a lot of people, including myself here that really want to reach their goals. I mean granted that we all have obstacles that have happened in our lives that we want to get to a certain point. Hopefully we can get on the right track, you know, no matter whether it's here or further down the road.
In fact there's been times where I was suicidal. I couldn't cope. It was too much. The demons that live between these ears were winning, but in my opinion I've made significant progress in dealing with the committee, you know is the name that I call the voices that live inside my head, so it's kind of like I'm 55 years old and I'm starting a new life.
See I got two boys that, you know that I started seeing more and caring more, and now it's not an option. It's not an option to go that route again. I've been there, and I'm not doing it again, and whatever I have to do I'm going to do. I want my dream back. I want my life back. I'm going to work awfully hard to do it.
I tell you about having a woman call and says, "Do you all take in any stray dogs?" I said, "No mam. We don't have kennels for them." She said, "What is that you all do there then?" I said, "Occasionally we take in stray people if they're veterans." You know, she says, "Oh vet." I says, "Ya, veterans." She thought this was a, you know, for animals, a veterinarian center.
Though programs like the Homeless Veterans Fellowship would like to reach every homeless veteran, the reality is that this is a goal still far beyond their reach.
I've been committed to this for ten years. Are we getting all of the veterans off of the street and into self-sufficiency? No, I'm afraid not, you know there's some that take longer than we have time for.
I'd be lying to you if I said ya, it's perfect, everybody's just, you know. No, that's not the case. Lets be real. It's a, you know, just like any program, we have our successes, but we have our failures. We have guys that we may not be able to reach due to whatever, their mental illness or their physical capabilities or incapabilities, and that's life.
I've seen a few guys that, from the time we came in, until now have, you know they seem to become more gregarious, they seem to be getting out a lot more with the rest of the veterans. They're not quite as isolated. A lot of people of gone to work.
I know society in general likes to say, dang we're running this program, our success rates 99.6, you know. Well that's sort of being unrealistic. It's sort of how do you judge success? I mean for this guy if he's able to just get back into society, be social with people, and maybe get some employment, that's to me success, or you may have another guy who goes onto school, finishes his degree and goes on with life like nothing ever happened. I mean, in my opinion, even though we like to put numbers on things, they're both successes.
There is one person who doesn't get along well with people, for whatever reason. He is a veteran. He spent over ten years living in a tent up behind Weber State University, ten years. What caused his anti-social behavior and psychological difficulties that he has, including alcoholism, don't know. All we know is we now have him out of his tent and in housing, and he's better off. My philosophy of Homeless Veterans Fellowship is that we should be working ourselves out of a job. It's not happening. For every one that we get in the program and help out the other side, there are two or three or four more sitting there waiting to come in, and do we see more veterans coming? We sure hope not, but history tells us we are.
One of the things I find in this field, or with the people with mental illness, so many of them love to tell their stories, their hard-luck stories, and they focus on their short-comings and what terrible events that happened to them, and many people in this field that work in this field, they love to tell those stories, and people that don't work in this field, they like to hear those stories because it makes them feel more human. I don't. I never liked it, you know. Everyone has a story, and everyone can interpret their life events as being very negative and very bad and very horrific, or you can pick the best from your past and leave the rest behind.
As far as the program that they have offered me here has helped, and it can help the next resident here that comes here and they're focused on getting somewhere in their life, so I'm blessed to have the opportunity to be here.
I hate to look at if this wasn't here where I'd be. I can't say enough, and then they, Mark got me this great job, and he helps me with my problems, and you know they've helped me through my addiction that I didn't even know I had. My son Jasee, his bike got stolen a month ago, and that's all he wants for Christmas is a bike. I think Jasee's going to love that. I went and got locks.
He's going to love that one. I worked twelve days in a row and all I could think about was spending it all on Christmas. I think he's going to like that one. I think you're going to flip over the bike though. Kids are a good motivation thing. Even though they say you need to stay clean and sober for yourself, it's not bad to have a good reason to besides just wanting to yourself, and my two boys have been a great inspiration to me, and if I work hard I'm going to be there when they need me.