Street Vets Transcript final by wuzhengqin


									Utah Now
Street Vets Transcript

Eugene, Marine Corp
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.

Robert Piaro – Veterans Assistance Foundation – Tomah, WI
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.

John Vickroy, Board of Directors
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.

Eugene, Marine Corp
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.

John Vickroy, Board of Directors
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.

Robert, Army
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."

Jeff Cane, Program Director
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

John Rambo, Employment Counselor
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.

Stan, Navy/ Air Force
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.

Warren, Army
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.

Mike, Army
You know the dues are 100 dollars a month, and now I say that my roommate
and I live in the penthouse suite.

Mark Sheldon, Drug/ Alcohol Counselor
These people aren't here just as a flop-house overnight. They're here to
transition into real life.

Ed, Army
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.

Sammy, Army
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

Robert, Army
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-

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.

John, Navy
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...

Mark, Air National Guard
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.

Jeff Cane, Program Director
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.

Stan, Navy/ Air Force
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.

Eugene, Marine Corp
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.

Eugene, Marine Corp
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

Ed, Army
I've been homeless since 1974 on and off. This is kind of like my last stop, you

Ron, Navy
I mean some guys here, of course, have been homeless forever. You know I
lived on a river for 20 years.

Ed, Army
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.

Steven Peck, United States Veterans Initiative – Los Angeles, CA
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.

Mike, Army
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.

Anthony, Army
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.

Mike, Army
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

Normand Cartier
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

Anthony, Army
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.

Jeff Cane, Program Director
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.

Robert Piaro – Veterans Assistance Foundation – Tomah, WI
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.

Warren, Army
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.

John Vickroy, Board of Directors
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.

Mark Sheldon, Drug/ Alcohol Counselor
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.

Tom, Army
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.

Mark Sheldon, Drug/ Alcohol Counselor
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.

Tom, Army
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.

Tom, Army
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.

Steven Peck, United States Veterans Initiative – Los Angeles, CA
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.

John Rambo
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.

Robert, Army
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.

Mark, Air Force Reserve
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."

Robert, Army
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.

John Rambo
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.

Anthony, Army
I may not have my family around me, but this is my family.

Robert, Army
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.

John Vickroy, Board of Directors
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.
John Rambo
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

For veterans of war the events that brought them so close would also be some
of their most traumatic.

Archival Footage (Lyndon B. Johnson)
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.

Clint, Marine Corp
I served in the Marine Corp I was in "Nam" in '66-'67. I didn't wanted to join the
Marine Corp, 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

Walter Ben, Outreach Coordinator
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

Robert, Army
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.

Clint, Marine Corps.
"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.

Anthony, Army
I had college teachers who said if you're a Vietnam veteran, do not expect to
pass my class.

Mark Sheldon, Drug/ Alcohol Counselor
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.

Anthony, Army
The Vietnam era veteran, they would rather forget us than to deal with us.

Mike, Army
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.

Ron, Navy
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.
John Vickroy, Board of Directors
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.

Ron, Navy
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

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.

Archival Footage
(sounds of bombing/war)

Robert Piaro, Veterans Assistance Foundation – Tomah, WI
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.

Mark Sheldon, Drug/ Alcohol Counselor
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.
Mike, Army
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.

Ron, Navy
Once an individual goes into combat, they're changed forever for the rest of
their life.

Walter Ben, Outreach Coordinator
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.

Mike, Army
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.

Mike, Army
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?

Kent, Army
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.

Robert Piaro, Veterans Assistance Foundation – Tomah, WI
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.

Ron, Navy
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.

Robert Piaro, Veterans Assistance Foundation – Tomah, WI
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.

Mark Sheldon, Drug/ Alcohol Counselor
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.

Robert, Army
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.

Mike, Army
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...

Robert, Army
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.

Warren, Army
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.

Jeff Cane, Program Director
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.

Eugene, Marine Corp
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 Corp
boot camp and the instructors put that into us every day, the last four letters of
American is ICAN; I can.
Robert, Army
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.

Jeff Cane, HVF Program Director
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

Walter Ben, Outreach Coordinator
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.

Kent, Army
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.

Eugene, Marine Corp
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.

Mike, Army
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.

Tom, Army
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

Robert, Army
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

John Vickroy, Board of Directors
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.

John Rambo, Employment Counselor
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.

Ron, Navy
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.

John Rambo
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.

John Vickroy, Board of Directors
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.

Jeff Cane, Program Director
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.

Eugene, Marine Corp
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.

Tom, Army
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.

To top