Outside appearances didn’t always reflect what was going on inside of Army Veteran Doug. After quitting high school and working different jobs, he decided on a whim to visit a friend who was in the Army at Fort Bliss, Texas. He returned to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and ultimately went to a recruiter. He joined the Army Reserve and after basic training became a basic medic. After six months of reserve duty, he enlisted for a three-year term of active duty. He loved being a medic and spent 18 months in Eschborn, Germany, working at a job he loved. The role was rewarding for this young soldier.
In the autumn of 1983, Doug’s world changed when he was reassigned to mortuary duty after the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. He spent countless days handling the remains of service members killed in the brutal attack. “It really traumatized me,” he added. He was discharged from the Army and returned home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1984. He worked various jobs, including as a mechanic, sweeper truck operator, hay baler, and retail clerk. But this hardworking employee was hiding a secret—he was a functional alcoholic.
In 1999, a friend convinced him to get sober. At the time, he was in a tumultuous long-term relationship. He knew he had to make changes for his mental health and well-being. Years later, Doug reconnected with a former friend, Jeff, through Facebook. The friendship soon blossomed into a romance, and in September 2019, Jeff and Doug got married. A new and fresh chapter of his life had begun. But they were struggling to make ends meet on the small disability payments they were receiving.
Then Doug contacted the Veteran Program. They helped him with past-due rent and utility bills. He also received help for car repairs, food, toiletries, and other basic household needs. “They helped us get back on our feet again,” he added. Doug is now enrolled in the Shallow Subsidy program. He shares this advice with other Veterans:
“You need to pick up the phone and ask for help. Kim made it easy to ask for help. No judgment. Just an offer to help in any way they can. She treated both my husband and me with respect and kindness.”
If you are a Veteran who is facing eviction or homeless, please call 2-1-1. Effective 10/1/22 Opportunity House no longer manages the Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant.