From Hero to Homeless and Back
Veteran shares his story
The face of homelessness is changing when it comes to our veteran population. It maybe a military of choice but many of the younger vets who have fought in recent wars are struggling.
33 year-old Dusty Faulkner is one of those veterans. He dropped out of college to join the service the day after September 11, 2001, a decision he says he would make again, even knowing the outcome of the decision.
Faulkner served honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as he reached the end of his service he realized something was wrong.
“Physically broke is one thing. I mean I understand if I am laying there with a broken leg I need to get fixed, so I can continue the mission, but for me to admit I was mentally ill was almost impossible,” says Faulkner.
Faulkner had all the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, and not all of them came from the was. While serving overseas his four year-old nephew was murdered by a babysitter. His sister died a year later, and a few years after that his mother was gone as well.
Faulkner turned to alcohol to take away his pain. His life became a blur. Of the few things he does remember, waking up from near death in a hospital, a stint in API, and finally landing at the Veteran’s Administration Domiciliary program for homeless vets.
He says he sat on a bench outside for hours, trying to summon the guts to go inside.
“I mean that was the most heroic courageous thing I’d done in a long time. Getting off the bench, walking inside and saying I need help,” says Faulkner.
He spent a year in the residential treatment program; a year he says changed his life.
Today Faulkner has a year of sobriety behind him. He is now working at an apprenticeship with the VA Health Center. He is living in a VA sponsored apartment. And as the AA bible he believes in Faulkner is taking it one day at a time.
Dusty Faulkner says it’s not easy to tell his story, but if it helps just one person it will be worth it.