Try to imagine spending the better part of the last fifteen years sleeping outside...in tents, under the deck of an abandoned house, in a boarded up dank, musty garage; black inside with mold, and under a worn-out tarp draped over two discarded sofas in the woods. The latter is where I met Navy veteran Robert almost five years ago, and in that time, I've known him to sleep in the rest of those places as well.
I've also seen numerous times in emergency rooms for various medical issues exacerbated by an unsheltered life on the streets and in the woods, and a drinking habit that would make a fish blush. I've heard doctors tell him he needs to quit drinking, but must go through medical detox, for quitting on his own would surely kill him. By the Grace of God, Robert has been sober for over two years...without the help of medical detox.
For the entire time I’ve know him, and for many years prior, Robert has struggled to prove he was a veteran. The Veterans Administration told us he wasn’t in their database and his DD-214 couldn’t be located. State agencies and local nonprofits gave up looking and assumed he was lying about his military service, as so many who are unsheltered and desperate to survive by any means often do. I confess, after doing my own due diligence, I too made that mistake of not believing him, though everything about Robert and the stories he told of his service spoke to him having served. That didn’t end our friendship, and I still loved him, but it did close doors that should have been open to him. And just as he quit drinking on his own; with God’s help, he proved he is truly a veteran and has documentation to prove it. Thank you for your service, Brother!
I met Robert when I met Steve who now calls Heaven Home. We quickly became the three amigos, and they were part of my original twelve. Together, they inspired me to help others living outdoors. I wish Steve was with us to celebrate that I kept my promise to his best friend, Robert. I’ve waited a long time to write this post. In my heart, #42 should have been #2, right after Steve became #1. Last week, Robert’s homeless nightmare came to an end when he signed a lease on a room I found for him. It took far too long for my liking and Robert’s, but it all happened in God’s timing.
Thank you, Father God! Thank you to everyone who has served him, loved him, sheltered him, and helped keep him alive to reach this milestone! And thank you Robert for not giving up!
Welcome HOME, Robert! Welcome HOME!