Shelter Americas Homeless Veterans Featured Documentary


Al Jazeera English


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raise your right hand and repeat after me I say your name do solemnly swear [Applause] Constitution the United States so I got the veteran who's named Roger Schultz he served in the Marine Corps from 1980 to 1995 so he's going into my programs there's a bed immediately for him it's get his life back to it he's been living out of his truck for the last couple of years he's homeless and I'm just trying to get him out of his truck into a bed [Music] so um you tell me again what you did in the Marine Corps yes as the United States Marine Corps as a cannoneer I was a sergeant for quite a long time but people look at us bad but I always don't know I love my service you know I came from a very broken broken home not much family support so that's I joined United States Marine Corps there's all good from there so learn how to be a Marine nothing else yes I do every day yours that somebody on your side always oh that's um the pride so many scholars called a speedy Corps oh my god the Marines for my family and then my wife left here after that and I didn't know what sea I was working I gave my life back on track that's pretty much what I fell into an extreme flashback when funded through extreme flash but I wanted right back overseas out in the field and could not get out of it I mean the sheriff's had a few run-ins a few times the Schultz you and your Sacramento program so it's basically they're gonna work on his income his health and his housing situation it was I it was hard also for me to get back to civilian life I mean attempted suicide three times and I was homeless at one point when I first came back after second Rogers situation being homeless so I thought the country thought this the country gave up on me this job saved me because I mean I know 40 percent of the employees here are veterans so every understands the veteran here and it was just the perfect working place so what do you see project success cuz he wants it now I mean yeah he's had his hiccups his bumps in the road but he's at that point his life where his 50 you know he's ready just he wants to relax I hope and just work him and enjoy the rest of his life it's also we got hope for today put it that way amen this organization started in the seventies we were trying to create a place for returning Vietnam veterans and it soon became apparent like everybody else they need in a home they needed a job they needed healthy relationships so so there was a need for to establish an agency an organization that was not only it could bring together these resources but also create a place a safe secure place that they could come to talk about their experiences share that with other people have a similar experience there seems to be a large percentage of veterans who do come out you know a little broken you know and for everybody really I mean it's a life-changing experience that's what boot camp is all about they take away your individualism and they train all that stuff out of you so you don't question orders they're leaving you know such a structured environment and then thrown into you know life that's been going on for four years without them or longer you know and that's scary and intimidating and they don't know how to cope and that's why a lot of them turn to drugs or turn to whatever because they don't know how to fit in anymore I feel like the real problem is there's no out training that makes sense you know particularly with our military people now you know they're being trained to such a high degree to go over and fight they go over there they do their job and then they're out one day and why I you know how is somebody supposed to flip that switch it doesn't happen it's about to save at the Bob Dylan wear nails he men time we could using about now I think we are yeah that's a good program next week I'll graduate but I got it I put in for an extension to stay longer okay because I need a lot more work on myself and I'm getting the help that I need here or so well I'm hoping that I can learn here because I'm dealing with every issue that the rest of you are dealing with I'm 100 percent PTSD that's all you are yeah and what yours who were you in that's 67 68 I said when I was drafted they very wisely made medi-cal for me cuz I don't think there was anything else in the army that I would have done I never saw another job that I could have done that I would have done [Music] and when we get ambushed and they'd be shooting Madison stuff I would use my rifle to make noise I wanted to scare it off but I didn't want to hurt him mostly since then I've been dealing with the effects PTSD and depression and probably does have it you're talking about that's what I it's common to all those this my son Jack gipsy Davey half-crazy never quite came home from I'm comes under he's right back in like it was only mid before I took care of a man when a truck rolled over the mountain and crushed him Williams airway was full of blood and then I clawed it out with my hands and it just fell back up and then bubbles broke and there was nothing I could do he was dead on through that tore me to pieces no way [Music] you hear scream he's locked in the arms of let's say Voltaire where the pen one's chasing in in order to function in combat and you gentlemen know this a rational response would be to get the hell out of there but we cannot be rational so we have to set aside our rational human response and then of having cut all of those feelings off you numb yourself to it because if you don't you just start screaming one day in the middle of it and you won't stop I went on tour to Iraq in 2009 and um we got bombed every Thursday they went lob off from rocking out rock rock around some more arounds whatever they had one night one of those rounds hit three four guys and and I think one of them survived I don't really remember because kind of burnt my memory with the meth and everything to try to forget about it but we lost three three guys three MPs you talked about numbness when I got back I I had no fear period yeah I was not afraid of anything yeah walks into hood in the middle of the night and I need me care trying to get some weed too you know to calm me down how did the numbness equate that with with the use using and and was eventually the not having a home how did that dynamic play out I couldn't have made it well if I use the unemployment because I got an employment for two years if I were to use it right instead of using it to subside my my fears my name like my feelings pretty much yeah and I could have went somewhere but I didn't I just I don't know how to explain it yeah I've been in here almost 90 days now the 23rd of this month be 90 games but I'll be asking for an extension because I I can't trust myself to go out there for the holidays I need to go through that go through the holiday here in DRC and I just thank God for it each one of my veterans regardless of whether they're in the Army Navy Coast Guard they're not Marines but I still know thank you when I actually came here I mean yeah at first it's a scary situation and the diversity here is you know we have straight and we have gay and we have transgender and I'm actually a gay veteran and I also came out with my HIV status I'm HIV positive and you know the acceptance from the group was very much overwhelming and they opened up arms and you know they offered words of encouragement that was actually remarkable so we kind of so wretched that we don't think anybody could ever care for us or lovers and that ain't that is never you know every veteran out there is one of my brothers and my sisters yeah I want to be there for them you know I tell my my my vets all the time I said look you know I'm I'm not a social worker by Nature [Music] while it sounds harsh but by and large I don't really care about the average person out there but I do this because I love my [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music] the program is design it's a 30-bed transitional program for homeless vets and so yes they all had to been homeless and all veterans their goal is self-sufficient income so we help them apply for benefits we help them go back to school or get employment each veteran is different each to their needs are different and so we're able to treat them to the root issues whether it's addiction whether it's mental health morning Roger now you're really gonna meet my roommates mad at me it's a little after 6:00 I'm gonna be over there oh no too damn early he's gonna fire in whirling five miles in the Marines but I would get sleep in this is my readjustment therapy from the recored the way of life I learned in the Marines just doesn't mix in society so we're here learning how to adjust that so I can maybe have a relationship with my children and ex-wife next employer that doesn't turn destructive like the morning routine yeah every morning the Sun Yahoo guy right now when he first came in here he was yeah I thought he needed medication bad cuz he was in out he was just he was having a real bad time and counselor was in session with somebody so I couldn't get the counselor out of the office I thought Roger was getting his truck and leave that's oh yeah yeah well you handle a took two weeks to two weeks and he was calm down it was amazing it was how do I get to swab the floor the navy guys should be good of that Eric all swabbies [Music] so one thing I like to highlight particularly with our new veterans coming into these programs is that it is a program so you don't run shelters you know this isn't a mission it's a men's supportive housing programs everybody takes turns doing chores if somebody has been living on the street for 15 years cleaning a kitchen might be a totally alien experience for them but it's something that they all are gonna have to do they get their own apartments we teach that [Music] I don't know I don't know how to sad but it's just I love this place you know how I wish everybody could experience this [Music] this is my car being my ex-wife lived in this car it's not a good place to live but I guess it beats the street now let me show you where I was living it was basically sit like this and put the seat where is it right here all the way back and this is this is a position we slap it you know I'd have the sleeping bag pulled up over me and my pillow behind my head but as you can see I'm not vertical or horizontal yeah yeah so I wasn't I mean you try to turn over and you just get more uncomfortable and that's where the alcohol came in you know you drink it off our car you just pass out in the matter way out then you wake up in the morning sore you know and you'd start your day all over again doing the same thing drinking so you wouldn't have to feel anything when you when you try had to crawl back in this thing and sleep in it the end I think happened in the McDonald's parking lot I stopped getting high I try to use more drugs and they just wouldn't work and it's like like something outside of myself said that's enough now what's a veteran's Resource Center and things have just been going good since then you know I completed I did everything I needed to do to to do the right thing you know to get help and now this car is just a reminder of what I'm done with today life is so good I'm gonna hang on to what I got both hands ain't letting go [Music] [Music] [Music] have you seen circumstances where you couldn't save people I've seen circumstances in which the client didn't want to be saved somebody will decide that a heroin or alcohol was much more important to them at that moment and then we just hope that we left enough of an impression that at some point they'll be ready for help and they'll come back again we've never turned her back on a veteran and we're not gonna do it today hopefully some day they'll all come back I'm happy why I'm a veteran of two branches I did six years active duty in the Navy as a sonar technician from there I went into the Naval Reserves once that completed I went into the Army National Guard which I'm still currently serving in that a total of 14 years now for the guard I work as supply logistics I periods in my life where I had a substance abuse problem that I had a battle back from and get over it which was hard I've done it now and again and this last time was a lot harder but at least I was able to bounce back from it all and since then have been trying to find income to help kind of move forward three times where we have to cross over it to a creek area so just come and give you a heads up your whole day is encompassed with doing nothing but surviving that foot hole to go around to look for housing or to look for jobs it becomes much harder because you're more focused on where am I gonna get my next meal or how am I gonna get to these free services or how am I gonna get to these food banks and then to think about where's our next shower you can't hi Jamie you look homeless and your clothes are all dirty and stuff like that you can't better even if you walk to changing dear little platform where I stand with my boyfriend and a couple other neighbors so to say this is the art tank kind of broke the zipper off of it but it's a good thing there's also good ventilation - yes good ventilation and then there's um our friend Vicky as well as our friend Kenyon they stay down here with us but this is generally where I say right off of a freeway in the woods so welcome to the woods with my boyfriend and a couple other neighbors so to say this is the art tank kind of broke the zipper off of it the one thing I know about that being homeless in a situation I remember two nights ago now what when the robbery happen oh yeah Sheriff's Office ended up coming down here looking for the assailants oh say came down here woke us up I suppose come out basically he told us hey have a week move so it's quite common here in the homeless community so [Music] women veterans are definitely the most underserved population we could put a man that's homeless in a bed right now no problem but we have a young female that has no place to go and has to hide has to hide it's heartbreaking it's heartbreaking there's actually a new tent off of our my last paycheck but the first one we in was over in this corner and after the first ring because they'd had holes and whatnot we were so all of our betting everything was just soaked and open down to my socks my toes wrinkly when I took them long yeah [Music] these are my girls they were both rescues I clearly like my heart tends to be bigger than I can handle logistically you know I've had herses it's old and the VA certified her as a therapy dog for me she actually just being my baby kind of turned into like a pts response dog so when I'm feeling like really edgy like defensive she'll really like post up close to me and make sure that nobody like or really just I mean she I think she knows that nobody's gonna hurt me she just knows that like there's times I can't handle this proximity to other people I was a Navy diver so my I did primarily submarine rescue and I worked on actually had a really cool job in the Navy undiagnosed mental illness was a major part of why I ended up homeless these girls back in here you can totally I mean you can get in there I've got my VA psychiatric drugs it you know at the ready and I haven't missed a dose of my medication since giving it and I can really like I mean I can write lists now and like realistically see a list through in a day call people back whether I'm gonna make an appointment or not it sucks it's terrible it's no you know nobody should have to live like this but at the same time I have I do have a roof over my head and four walls and organic heaters you know what I mean I will never go cold and I'll never not get my hugs for a day I'm clear about the fact my hands out and my hat's off and I need some help you know and when I'm in a position to like reach out and help somebody else but your ass I'm gonna be there like as soon as that opportunity shows up my seat go ahead part of the pathology of trauma and a veteran is them wanting to isolate from society from each other they just won't be left alone and that's our biggest challenge I think we fight desperately to get them out of their comfort zones and get them back together and get them to sit at a table to make friends you know to do the things that people in normal society do contact is curative being with other people was what heals us [Music] all right so one of yours is ready to move on we acknowledge that accomplishment beginning of of this coin and it's very special point on one side it says vets in recovery because that's what you guys all are now the other side says I came with hope worked and learned I have a new life a life that I have earned this coin is going to be for Dennis Miller all right Dennis I've known you for a while I love him men you've helped me with my spiritual growth did you know that you're my hero you are good luck Danis simplify thanks for the Hat so I bought that right there you Google ringer disconnect be perfectly because I can really talk to you about myself you're an inspiration to all these guys here we're gonna miss you thank you I feel the same way Trudy does Dennis just you know I'm gonna miss you so much you've done so much for me helping me in everywhere you really have I hope you know that I'll make this real show you guys you know I I was in jail the VA guy VA lady picked me right up in jail and brings me right here I got here what's shower shoes on family has straining orders against me I came here with so much shame and in this place picked me up and you guys did too you know I still got a lot of work ahead of me you guys but I'm looking forward to getting out of here now and having that autonomy I feel I want that autonomy and I want to feel good about myself and get my family back god bless you all and thank you and I'd be remiss Trudy I love you too man you've been you've been a great friend to me here we hit it off right off the bat I forgot I forgot I'm sorry I've missed you we hit it right off the bat person [Music] I had a moment yesterday when I left the story completely he had no idea where I was didn't know where my car was had a full-blown panic attack and just going through those we're in one minute I'm in reality the next minute I'm not quite painful yeah yeah in this process is you know brought up all this stuff I the stuff for 20 years yeah hi how you doing hi this is my good friend Jenny hi how do you do Dave I'm David this is Jack Barrymore yeah I went in to the Coast Guard to go help others when I was 17 and a month before I went to maps they weighed me and told me I was five pounds overweight I was 170 pound bodybuilder was six percent body fat so I'd quite eating invasive trainings so through my time in my anorexia took over my life at that point i was a hundred and twelve pounds so I finally was able to get into rehab in rehab my first week I was then cornered several times by a counselor and the last time he raped me so my history in the military was difficult one for something I wanted to do something I so wanted to do I had to get out to save my life women with MST military sexual trauma if any female says I've been raped or have been sexually assaulted or I have been brutally badgered they nothing happens it's that it falls on deaf ears and you get kicked out and you get nothing and it happens time and time again I also myself was raped three times different times in the military and it definitely is it's horrible and it happens to women quite often it's very much often that was 20 years ago when I finally broke this last May I had been stockpiling pills and I'd already been drinking a lot and taken a lot is Anning through the day so I took about 80 Noriko's percocet xanax for Pannalal and then some anti-nausea medication and drinka fit the whisky and I was ready and I said I'm going to bed I thought I would be done I looked it up on the internet that combination should have killed anybody my next thought was my friend Jenny shaking me awake screaming at me sing if you're dead I'm gonna kill you which today I can laugh about not so much I was so mad to be alive and the only thought I could think of was I can't believe I'm here I can't believe I'm still here I convinced her I was just sick she went to go get another friend to help watch me overnight while they were gone I took a half a bottle of Tylenol PM s the next day when I woke up again I was like you've got to be kidding me but by that point well you you're here inspiring I'll say that my goodness to to have to have come out of the other side of what you have been through and what you have attempted is amazing and you are made of iron don't think you're not that goodness I would like to just share some of my things with you that we figured - yes did you - no I have short-term memory loss shit I wrote this song in 1982 and I was a patient in the hospital at OU team in the Asheville North Carolina the nurse that was least in charge of it was in charge of me I don't want else she's in charge of was just a a wonderful person her name is Sylvia place mrs. Sylvia songs don't gratitude [Music] like all like grains of sand [Music] survive so the first time I came back down here after the hospital just being able to see the trees again and the ocean and feel grateful for being here and having survived was just kind of breathtaking in the hospital I had a social worker tell me that we're all spiritual beings having a human existence we have tough times we have good times that's the whole balance of why we're here and that has really helped me because I'm doing good today but you never know I get triggered things happen but if I can breathe through walk down here or remember this spot in my mind I know it'll pass they say that a a veteran commits suicide over 61 minutes here in the United States and unfortunately I think that number is so off to drinking the drugging the overdosing the risky behavior I'm sure that sure that number a number of is at least double that in terms of all these other causes we've averted at least in the last one twenty four suicides suit the training that I mandate my case managers get and then you know we've probably lost three in the last two months and who knows how many more that we've engaged with that we just haven't heard of at this juncture you know it's uh it's horrible we have a lot of successes two clients that come into the program they work really hard and they leave us I don't want to say normal but they leave us you know better productive members of the community they they are happy they're healthy yeah the first week I want to get my truck and Fricke leave every day you stuck it out in a fellow resident still you know the big it works with the group the group therapy really works it was it works well cuz we're all veterans trying to get well and the staff here is very supportive there's a 24-hour duty staff and the guy at night has helped me gratefully that I had a couple of crazy flashbacks and I got to come down talk to the guy we talked for a few minutes walk around outside and I didn't have to go back to my old dog behaviors I got to work it out in a safe environment and go back to sleep and said nope you know what the sheriff's arrested me it's just been good the more I be good the more good things that come out so former Marines getting well [Music] you're welcome enjoy [Music] heather's somebody that has become a lot closer to me if I see her every day and I talk to her every day I've actually got my EVP my unemployment and stuff so I've been getting inco which helps a lot it gives more sense of a freedom to be able to do a lot more stuff and catch up and repay people back as well and that money that she did receive she was able to take care of her debt with her storage facility she actually gets to go enjoy some space well you know David and I we have our vouchers so we've been looking around like that there's a hotel right next to second city comedy we've looked and looked and looked and we've discontent come up against the door are you gonna get groceries really great you're not like a hundred are you okay [Music] [Music] thank you very much I think the biggest shock factor for me is that how many of our young vets not only old vets but our young vets are coming back you know a year removed from the military and they're already homeless and having an issue with addiction [Music] we fit the final day [Music] you start [Music] and look at the trauma look at the trauma in every corner of every room of every building that we run I mean every day is torture every night is sleepless and it's unnecessary for half the conflicts they send us - yeah these guys are heroes and they deserve the best of what we've got we made a promise to these people we need to flip and keep it for once you know we make a lot of promises Americans that we don't keep well this is one promise goddammit they need to keep they need to take care of these people better lord save souls them poor boys and died [Music] you could snap your fingers and have something spectacular happen well you know my first reaction is it's happened every day when you see you save another life you helped somebody that's a little tiny bit of a miracle that wasn't part of that but if I could snap my fingers let's not have another goddamn war [Music]