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Tim's Story

In Six Words: Renewed my spirit. Paying it forward.

Tim began his military career at an early age. After serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, the only life he knew was that of a soldier. “My unit became my family away from my family,” he reflects. “We did everything together.”

Tim shared months of deployment with his unit, taking pride in everything he did – from military duties to nights of heavy drinking. But, after returning home from the military, Tim found out just how much he had changed.

“Things that used to be familiar to you now seem foreign. Your wife or girlfriend dresses different, or may be wearing a perfume that you have never smelled before.”  After living years as a soldier, Tim couldn’t find a way to adjust to civilian life.

Tim soon drifted into depression, letting his pride get the best of him. “I began to deal with my issues with a bottle, being too prideful to ask for help.” He isolated himself from others, dealing with his feelings of emptiness and despair alone.  His first marriage soon failed, he lost his job to alcohol, and then he lost his home. 

“I began looking at myself and didn’t believe it was me who was looking back.” Tim refused to believe the reality of his situation, thinking that he could change anytime he wanted to. He was in denial.

The denial was soon replaced by guilt. “I felt as if I was a nobody and that I had no purpose in life.” He felt guilty of his situation, his past, and for letting down his family. “I began bargaining with God for a way out of my despair.”

It took six years of homelessness before Tim asked for help. “At this point, life and death had no separation for me.” Tim realized that in order to change his future, he must first let go of his past. “I came to the conclusion that my old life had to die if I ever wanted my circumstances to change.” With that in mind, Tim set out to change his future.

Tim soon found a new unit, a new family, at Volunteers of America. “I began to adjust my life without all the chaos.” He received counseling to help him find realistic solutions to his problems, challenging him to let go of his past. Tim was finding joy again in experiencing life. As he remembers it, “I had hope.”

“I have a desire to achieve…”

Tim’s life is on a new path.  After earning his degree in social work, he now works as a case manager at Volunteers of America, helping other veterans like him. “I take it personally, and I am proud to help veterans like me.”  With a feeling of renewed purpose, Tim can now give back, give hope, and enjoy his new life.

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