I am a disabled veteran and Charlotte native. I grew up in a middle class family that was very loving. I did not “want for much” and had all my needs met. After becoming disable during my service in the Marines, I began to drink heavily and on top of my pain medications. During this time, I lost my wife and lashed out at those who loved me. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone.

In 2011, I entered my first program for drug and rehabilitation. After completing this program, I entered another 18 month program. Upon release, I found myself with no resources, no family, and no friends. All my bridges were burned. I was homeless and I was scared.

I found myself at Union County Community Shelter (UCCS) on November 21, 2012. As soon as I walked in I noticed how neat and safe the facility was and the meals were good. They were really good! I came to the shelter  weighing 178 pounds and left weighing 200 pounds, which my doctor was pleased with.

While at the shelter, I kept an active case plan with the Veteran’s Administration, often being transported to my appointments by UCCS transportation staff and assisted by my UCCS case manager while I remained in shelter. During my stay at UCCS, I remained clean and sober and continued to move towards self-sufficiency. With the help of my case manager, I was hired by a local fast food restaurant. Although it is often difficult for me to stand long periods on my deteriorated hip, I was able to maintain my job and save to move out of the shelter.  I was awarded a VA housing voucher that assisted with me with most of my housing costs.

Without the Union County Community Shelter I do not know what I would have done. During my time at there, I became a first time grandfather and I was able to speak with my son deployed overseas in the military. I am now reunited with my family and see them every week.

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