Becoming the man he wants to be

Photo by D. Maynard Photography

“I was at the bottom of a pit.  I didn’t know how I went from being a Staff Sargent in the Marines, a private business owner, a father, and community activist to being in a courtroom, facing a 13-year sentence for felonious assault.” 

Darryl began his military career in the U.S. Army and soon transferred to the Marine Corps. He was in the artillery division and over the course of ten years he rose through the ranks to become Staff Sargent. 

When he finished his service, he returned home and began working to support his family.  He built his own successful landscaping business and used the proceeds to begin helping the kids in the neighborhood he grew up in. 

“It had become a dangerous place.  And I couldn’t stand it.  Kids joining gangs, carrying guns, and I just wanted them to be safe.  The neighborhood was my home, and I had to do something.” 

Darryl invested his own money into a neighborhood center where for four years he poured every cent he had into it. 

He provided a safe place for kids to go after school.  He had volunteers helping with school work, providing food, and worked to do his best to keep kids off the street.  It broke his heart every time he saw a young person carrying a weapon, or in the worst moments, killed. 

“I wanted my family to be safe.  I wanted the neighborhood to get better.  I did everything I could, until I just ran out of money.”

Photo by D. Maynard Photography

The problem was, Darryl was fighting his own demons.  Nightly he would drink and smoke.  And before he knew it, he was spinning out of control. 

One night, Darryl’s drinking went too far and he became out of control. His friends didn’t recognize him. They’d never seen him act so chaotically.

Darryl was sentenced to 13 years in jail, and since that night, his lips have not touched a drop of alcohol.  He quit drinking and smoking for good. 

His addiction had caused so much to be taken away from him.  It had taken his money, his family, his friends and 13 years of freedom away from him. 

The first day Darryl was released from prison, he went straight to the license bureau and got his driver’s license back.  Then he drove 80 miles straight to a Volunteers of America veterans program, and walked through the door.  He didn’t have a job, or a home to call his own. He just knew this is where he needed to go. 

For the past few months, Darryl has been working on rebuilding his life.  He attends all the meetings and classes available to him.  He enjoys being around fellow veterans and the comradery.  He’s learning coping mechanisms and so much more.

“I don’t have a bank account.  I don’t have a home.  I don’t have a job either.  I am a homeless veteran, who is fighting his way back into society and to my family.  I just met my granddaughter for the first time, and I’m working on my relationship with my son.  It’s only been a few months, and I have more work to do, but I am going to do it.” 

Darryl is optimistic for his future.

“I will rebuild my landscaping company, I will be unified with my family, and I will get back to community service. From now on, I will be mentally prepared for everything in my life.” 

Darryl has goals and is getting the tools he needs to achieve them and reach his full potential. 

Thank you to D. Maynard Photography for photographing Darryl. 

You can help more veterans, like Darryl, continue their journey towards restoration.