Joe has encouragement for veterans experiencing homelessness, “Never give up!” He knows from experience that it can take a long time and a lot of effort to find stability and thrive.
Health Problems Led to Homelessness
Joe, an Air Force veteran, had a career as a truck driver. All the time on the road allowed Joe to save money but ultimately resulted in burn out. He decided to take some time off to pursue other career options. After a year, things fell apart and Joe’s health deteriorated making it impossible for him to return to work.
Relief from the Streets
He ended up living on the street in Phoenix at the Human Services Campus. He found the Madison Street Veterans Association (MSVA) Outreach Center which was the precursor to Catholic Charities MANA House. MSVA Outreach Center operated as a lounge at the Human Services Campus and would soon open a transitional housing facility. Their motto was, “veterans helping veterans.”
“I went to the outreach center every day. It was a relief from the streets. I could relax, sit and talk to other veterans,” said Joe.
Once open, Joe went on to live at the MSVA transitional housing facility and stayed there for about a year. “The stability of transitional housing, being in a safe place, helped me more forward.”
Joe tried to work with this fresh start, but his health and lack of professional credentials made it difficult to find gainful employment. He became homeless again.
This time would be different. Joe once again found comfort and support at the renamed MANA House Veterans Outreach Center. He took advantage of community resources and qualified for a program to attend college. He started a program to become a surgical technologist.
After starting school, he was able to find a permanent housing program that provided a stable housing solution.
Giving Back to those in Need
Joe had known Chuck Ashby, Catholic Charities MANA House Veterans' Outreach Coordinator for years. When Chuck learned that Joe had turned 55, he invited him to train as a Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) volunteer. “Volunteering at the Veterans Outreach Center is fulfilling. I understand what street life is like and white it means to find the support and the network to move forward,” said Joe.
Things are looking up for Joe. He has one year left of training to become a surgical technologist and finds great joy in serving other veterans as a volunteer. “My future is great! I have got so many opportunities these days.”