Scott's life motto: "Your attitude is your altitude."
My name is Scott and I’m 55 years young.
I’m originally from Dayton; the youngest of six kids. My mom was an alcoholic and I was raised by a foster family. I remember my mom regularly showing up and causing disputes with my foster parents.
I enlisted in the US Army right after high school and got out after serving two years. And, at the time I left, I thought I was a man. But, I really wasn’t. I was only 21.
The next 20 some years were full of decent jobs, but my life was also filled with drugs and alcohol.
I didn’t realize addiction already had its grip on me.
I remember staying with my brother and then losing my job. He made me sleep outside on his front porch. I guess it was his idea of tough love.
My family and friends wanted me to stand up on my own two feet.
But I needed help. I just wasn’t ready to ask for it.
My addiction was out of control. I had burned all bridges. I was fearing for my life. I knew I needed new scenery.
I borrowed my childhood friend’s bike. I told him I would bring it back, but I knew that was a lie. It was a late afternoon in June when I started my journey. On a bike.
I didn’t know where I was going.
I kind of recall stopping one time to rest for a few hours in a restaurant.
I got back on my bike and rode overnight over 70 miles. And, as the sun was coming up, I was pulled over by the highway patrol. They bought me breakfast and gave me five dollars. I told them I was a Veteran and looking for help.
Much of the whole bike ride was a blur. I remember looking at cornfields and then ending up on Broad Street. I stopped people on the sidewalk to ask questions along the way and low and behold there was Volunteers of America. I think it was divine intervention that led me here. I stopped in looking for a place to sleep overnight and a case manager told me this was a program for homeless veterans.
They provided me with a meal and a safe place to stay. I was finally getting the support that I needed.
I left Volunteers of America and for the next six years I was clean and sober. I had my own apartment and a good job working at a local hospital.
I gave them the best that I had. My unit was always the cleanest. I was proud of that.
Well, I ended up working so much, I overloaded myself. I volunteered for over time and never took vacation or sick time. That’s when I started making mistakes.
And, they let me go.
I was devastated. And, I relapsed.
So, I continued this cycle of getting clean for a few months, even longer, landing a job, then relapsing, losing my job, and then back on the streets.
They say relapse is part of recovery and I am living proof of this. But it takes a toll on you physically, mentally and spiritually.
Some people know how to bounce back and some people don’t.
I went back to Volunteers of America and attended the veterans programs. They helped me put together my resume and helped me get a job.
I worked at a Volunteers of America thrift store to help me transition back into the workforce. I took pride in telling customers that their donations go further than just this store. They help homeless veterans like me.
I was doing well, on my own and making money, but it only lasted about eight months.
The next thing I knew, I was living in a bed of a truck next to a church. I continued to work and was going to bible study on Wednesdays and church on Thursdays and Sundays. I was holding on to my faith. I needed the peace and quiet and enjoyed the animals, bugs and birds around me.
I started to go to meetings and my counselor convinced me to come clean with my boss. I don’t know why I agreed. Maybe God had a hand in it.
What happened in her office was a miracle. I didn’t know her that well, but I knew she was a nice lady.
I explained to her that I had a drug and alcohol problem and that I was living outside. It was the hardest thing I had to reveal.
I fully expected her to say, “Scott, we just can’t have this kind of behavior here.”
But instead, I remember her saying, “Scott, you’re the only person who has ever come clean with me like this before.” She then told me that she had lost her daughter to addiction. That blew me away. At that moment, I broke. I was crying. She was crying.
I relapsed. But, I kept my job.
She said, “Take all the time you need to get better. Because we need you here.” I still feel the love and compassion from that day. They are holding a job for little old me.
And, I wonder if I deserve it?
But, The Lord gave me a new perspective. I’m keeping it and running with it. The Lord gave me another chance to come back to Volunteers of America. And, I appreciate it.
And, this time is different.
I am ready.
I am clean and sober.
Today, I am on a path of recovery. I have hope and I have support.
I am committed to my sobriety by working on changing my behavior.
I haven’t missed a treatment meeting.
I am working to get myself well so I can get back to work and better manage my feelings of fear, insecurity and stress.
I finally feel deserving of help.
Just like they believe in the young guys in the video, they believe in me. I am grateful that Volunteers of America never gave up on me.
With your support, we can help veterans like Scott continue their journey towards restoration.