The US Department of Veteran’s Affairs reports that about 1.4 million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing[i].
乐动体育官方网站When Richard returned home from his service, he never thought he would end up as one of those 1.4 million at risk for homelessness. Unfortunately, a combination of depression, anxiety and other health issues kept him in and out of the Emergency Department at University Hospital. It wasn’t long before he realized that outside of the hospital, he had no where else to stay.
乐动体育官方网站At his last discharge, he found his way to a local shelter, where he was soon connected with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. His care team at University also referred him to STRIDE to help with his primary and behavioral healthcare needs. Richard credits STRIDE and the Coalition to getting his life back on track.
乐动体育官方网站“I just take it one day at a time,” Richard shared. “I fight my disabilities every single day. Some days it may look easy, but it’s not.”
乐动体育官方网站While at the shelter, Richard joined the Coalition’s Talking Circle, where Native Americans gather to share stories, confidentially, to help encourage healing in each other’s lives. Richard’s grandfather was full-blood Native American and he found comfort in connecting with others who shared his culture.
乐动体育官方网站“I am proud of my heritage,” he said. “By going through them [the Talking Circle], that’s when the Coalition brought in Pizza Fusion.”
乐动体育官方网站Pizza Fusion was Richard’s ticket to bounce back on his own. Earlier in his life, he was a Sous-Chef at the Sheraton Hotel, so he felt that he would be a natural fit in the kitchen at the Coalition’s new restaurant. He was right. After applying, he was hired and shortly after connected to an apartment.
乐动体育官方网站In early 2018, further health complications led to the loss of use in his foot. Richard could have fallen back into depression, but he had two new resources to help get him through the trial. The Coalition helped him file for disability and STRIDE helped him get an electric wheelchair.
乐动体育官方网站“Heather Kelly fought for me,” Richard remembered.
Richard acknowledges his resilience is in part, inspired by his care providers. They all “went out of their way to help me,” he shared. When Richard first came to STRIDE, he said he felt uncomfortable, but once he met his provider, Heather Kelly, and the front desk team, he began to feel more at home. The front desk team would chat with him and ask him how his day was going. He said he stopped feeling like a stranger, and that made all the difference.
“I could start connecting with these people,” he realized. “I started joking with some of them… I felt a family connection. They really went out of their way to help me.”