U.S. Navy Veteran Rex Neighbors’ life changed in just a few seconds. He entered the military in 1978 at age 21 and spent nearly 10 years traveling the world on various ships while working as a Navy dental technician. He even enjoyed a follow-up career in private dentistry.
But, Rex went from living a vibrant, independent life, to being in a nursing home for months after being hit by the mirror of a passing truck last year.
“I was standing on the corner reading a book outside the library and not paying attention,” said Rex. “This truck with extra wide mirrors came by and hit me, knocked me out, and I was in the hospital for three weeks and then transferred to the nursing home for three months.”
Against all odds, Rex ended up across the country at Catholic Charities MANA House, a transitional living facility for veterans experiencing homelessness. But, it wasn’t easy for him to find MANA House where he could get the help he needed.
While recuperating in the nursing home, Rex was told by his doctor that he wouldn’t get any better if he didn’t get out and walk. Winter was coming to Indiana and Rex knew he couldn’t take a chance walking outside on the ice in his fragile condition.
In addition, he was three months behind on his rent and facing eviction. It was too much to ask for one of his siblings to care for him with their busy family lives. Though he was functional, he was using a cane, had difficulty with balance and suffers from permanent neurological damage from the accident.
As a proud Veteran, he was accustomed to utilizing his local VA Hospital and knew his VA liaison well. A call to his liaison helped him learn about transitional living facilities around the United States for veterans. And that’s how he ended up on a bus to Phoenix from Indiana in the middle of winter. Rex had lived in Arizona briefly in the 1990s when he was working as a manager for Walmart, so he knew the climate would give him a chance to be as active as his doctor had suggested.
Once he arrived at MANA House, meeting with his action plan advisor (case manager) gave him immediate piece of mind. “Craig is the best. It’s important to have a confidante here that can help. He’s compassionate and understanding.”
Rex also felt right at home with other veterans, which was important to regaining his independence. He says without MANA House, he would have retreated from the world, and certainly would not have improved enough to live independently again. The structure and discipline that veterans possess was key to keeping Rex motivated. And, the beautiful Phoenix weather meant Rex could follow his doctors’ orders and walk every single day.
Rex was already receiving some VA benefits, but Craig helped him apply for additional assistance, which would give him enough income to pay rent as he continued to recuperate.
Danelle King, senior program manager at MANA House, says Rex was motivated from day one. That motivation led him to work closely with Craig to plan how he could get back to his family and his beloved home state of Indiana, afford his rent and living expenses and live independently once again.
As his health improved, Rex arranged for a part-time job back in Indiana to work for his brother. The income, in addition to his VA benefits, would give him enough to find a safe, permanent place live. Craig helped him find an apartment, spoke to his landlord to help him understand Rex’s challenges, and made sure he was set to go as soon as he landed in Indiana.
Rex is now back with his family and working part time. Without his action plan advisor and his fellow veterans, Rex wouldn’t have had the motivation to make it happen.
You can help veterans like Rex find their way back to permanent, safe housing and independent living by donating to Catholic Charities. You can even specify that your gift goes directly to MANA House.