It's not difficult to understand
how someone like Ruben could
end up homeless. He's only 25
years old. He was young
when he went into the service
out of high school.After 4
years of military service and
war, he was honorably
discharged for medical reasons, walking with the aid of a cane
and struggling with depression and PTSD from his combat
service in Afghanistan. "The military breaks you down to build
you up and it works for what you are doing in wartime but once
you are back in the real world, it's confusing," he says. "The
infantry doesn't train you well for the job market."
homeless he describes as a "very dehumanizing factor."
After a suicide attempt and stay in a VA program, he entered
Hope for Veterans where he has been for the past year. "I
desperately needed to come here and be able to transition back
to civilian life," he confides. "As veterans we support each other.
We're a community. It's an environment where people
understand each other."
He attributes his Community Hope case managers with "helping
me feel human again. They are not patronizing or false. They are
sincere in wanting to help you and there is always an open door.
I can just stop by to chat with my case manager. When I first
came here, I asked them to set me up with a therapist who I see
weekly and it's good to get things off your chest."
In September, Ruben is starting school for art, his first time in
college. His self-taught illustrations reveal an amazing talent.
His focus is on his art, his medical treatment and gaining his
independence. "I understand that I have to take my time here so
I don't return, so I make it on my own."