Friday, April 29, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Foster, 53, is searching for homeless veterans -- and he knows where to look.
Whether in a vacant lot behind a supermarket or a small clearing off the highway, homeless vets aren't that hard to find: One in three homeless adults has served in the military, and more than 150,000 veterans nationwide are homeless on any given night, according to the Veterans Administration.
Working with the sheriff's outreach unit, Foster finds vets camped in tents or makeshift lean-tos, where he delivers a message: There's help for you if you want it.
"For our heroes to be living in [these] conditions, it's totally unacceptable," said Foster.
Since 2000, approximately 900 veterans have found life-changing help at Foster's facility, Stand Down House. Named for the military command that gives troops time to rest after arduous duty, the program provides homeless male vets food, shelter and a safe place to recover, as well as the tools to conquer their personal problems.
"The idea is that they can relax now; we'll take care of them," Foster said.
Foster's motivation to help these men is personal: He used to be one of them.
Born in rural Georgia, he joined the u_s_army">Army right after high school. During his six years in the military, he began drinking and experimenting with drugs. He was an alcoholic by the time he left the Army in 1980, and his drinking and drug use escalated as he struggled to adjust to civilian life.
He spent the next decade battling his addictions, and at his lowest, he slept in flophouses or on the streets.
"I was pretty much out of control," Foster said. "I felt hopeless, helpless, ashamed and inadequate."
While struggling to get clean, Foster had difficulty finding a program that accepted veterans and provided the recovery services he needed, he said. The experience inspired him to design a program specifically for his brothers-in-arms.
"That's when the commitment in my heart was born," Foster said.
By the early 1990s, Foster settled into a life of sobriety, becoming a substance abuse counselor. Seeing that many vets continued to fall through the cracks, he joined forces with another vet, the late Don Reed, and established the nonprofit Faith*Hope*Love*Charity. After six years, Faith*Hope*Love*Charity created Stand Down House.
Now five buildings in total, Stand Down House provides transitional housing and support services to 45 veterans in different stages of recovery.
When vets arrive -- through referral by the Veterans Administration, which largely funds the program -- they receive meals, housing, clothing, counseling and transportation to the VA hospital for additional medical and mental health care.
After 30 to 60 days, eligible veterans must begin to look for work or attend school, but they can continue receiving housing, case management, addiction counseling and life skills classes for as long as two years. Successful veterans are eligible for the program's final component: permanent, sober-living housing.
The camaraderie the veterans find with each other at Stand Down House is another vital component of their recovery process.
"It was great to realize that other vets had been through similar experiences," said Matt Robinson, 28, who served in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard.
With their past as a common bond, vets often become informal counselors to each other, helping one another stay on track.
"We have each others' backs," said Joey Elluzzi, a Vietnam veteran.
Many graduates find the companionship so valuable that they return as volunteers.
As of 2008, Stand Down House reported that 93 percent of its eligible residents found work and 84 percent of graduates went on to live independently. Foster and his staff are now working with other programs around the country, sharing what they've learned.
Despite his program's success, Foster said, there's more work to do. A new wave of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is appearing at Stand Down House, and Foster said he's determined to serve -- and save -- this next generation.
When asked why he does this, he simply answers, "It's my calling."
But for those Foster has helped, there's nothing simple about his achievements.
"If you could see the people when they come in here -- how they look, act and smell -- and then see them after, being a positive part of society, I don't know how you couldn't call Roy a hero," veteran Keith Coleman said. "Think of all the lives he's changed."
Want to get involved?? Go here .
This story was on CNN Heroes.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Legal Mumbo Jumbo
This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.
This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.
The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.
This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content may not always be identified.
To get your own policy, go to http://www.disclosurepolicy.org
The opinions and view on this blog are my own. If you have a problem with the product or service, please contact the manufacturer. I’m not perfect and my opinions may change or my info may change. Sorry.
Also, by using this blog you agree to hold me harmless, as well as advertisers or anyone else associated with this blog. This blog is for entertainment only so enjoy!
- ► 2013 (47)
- ► 2012 (26)
- ▼ April (8)