A Veteran and His Dog: A Recovery Story With Heart
Last Updated: 13 Nov 2018
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Billy’s story proves that hope is not lost for Veterans battling homelessness.
For Veterans with PTSD, things that some might consider “normal” can be absolutely grueling and terrifying. Many are plagued by nightmares, flashbacks, paranoia, irrational fear, and a diminished ability to experience positive emotions.
Over long periods of time, these types of symptoms can slowly wear down at the fabric of your life. Many are unable to maintain a steady job, steady relationships, or stable living situation. (This is why we think mental health support for Veterans is so incredibly important.) Homelessness can be a common result of PTSD in Veterans if left untreated.
However, we know that recovery is not impossible. In fact, it’s very possible— and when we see it happen at Endeavors, it is beyond inspiring.
Kevin “Billy” Smith’s Story
We met Kevin “Billy” Smith several years ago when he was referred to us by NC Department of Veteran Affairs.
Billy had served his country several times— two separate tours in Vietnam. He had also experienced five different episodes of homelessness within the last 10 years, with the latest episode lasting over eight years. When we met him, he was found living in a shed without running water or electricity.
As is the case with many people experiencing homelessness, Billy had to develop a thick skin and be careful who he trusted. Naturally, when Family Endeavors located him, he was not very trusting. He also refused housing multiple times because he didn’t want to leave his beloved dog, Buddy.
After many conversations, we were able to reassure Billy that we could find a home for them both (because pets are important!). He was unsure, but agreed.
We leapt into action. Instead of finding a temporary place for them both to stay separately, we wanted Buddy and Billy to stay together. We found dog treat donations, private funding for a pet deposit, and searched high and low for a place that fit the bill.
It took less than a month! We found housing in just 26 days for Billy and Buddy— with a backyard, no less! Family Endeavors purchased a new bed for Billy, Berean Baptist Church donated blankets, dishes, cleaning supplies and household items, and Buddy and Billy moved in without a hitch.
Since being housed, Mr. Smith has been connected to the VA for medical services and the Social Security Administration. We are so excited to continue watching his path to recovery.
At Endeavors, we are proud to serve Veterans in whatever ways we can— through Veteran and military family services, housing services like the Fairweather Lodge, mental health support, supportive employment like Endeavors Unlimited, and far more.