Veteran Builds New Life in Victory House Program

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Pioneer’s Victory House is located in downtown Spokane, Washington and provides housing and support services to homeless male veterans who are living with substance use disorders, mental health and medical issues, and criminal histories. The program also provides the tools veterans need to help rebuild their lives so they can successfully transition to permanent housing.

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Sometimes individuals need a second chance to get it right. When Jim first came to Victory House he was still using methamphetamines. His addiction was in full swing but he had managed to conceal it for a while. Unfortunately, he was not ready to stop using the drug to live a clean and sober life, so he had to leave our Veterans housing program as a result. This was the first time I’d encountered someone losing housing due to their addiction and I really felt the system and our program had failed him. Despite attempts to follow-up on his well-being, I did not know his status.  

About a year later, Jim was referred again by the Spokane Veterans Administration and returned to live at the Victory House. He had been living in the woods of Eastern Washington and was unrecognizable, but finally he stated he was ready to live a sober life.

After enrolling in the Veterans Administration (VA) services, we encouraged Jim to attend substance abuse treatment programs and really work on his recovery. He engaged in his treatment and started to care about his well-being and physical self. A few months into his stay he went to the dentist and got a new set of teeth. Feeling better about himself, looking better and staying engaged in his treatment programs were all a part of his recovery.

One day Jim asked staff at the Victory House if they could help him learn how to use Facebook. Thinking this was a bit of an interesting request, staff inquired why this was important to him and why he felt social media was going to benefit him?  Jim explained that he wanted to reconcile relations with his adult daughter and social media was an excellent tool for communication with her age group. It also would allow him to see photos and get more acquainted with her current lifestyle.

Soon after his request, staff helped him create a Facebook profile. Jim was able to make contact with his daughter via his profile page. He worked on building a bridge for their relationship that had been severed many years before. During his residency at Victory House, the daughter made a surprise visit to see him in person. At first he was embarrassed and a little humiliated that she was seeing him in a homeless veterans setting. But those feelings faded away when staff made him realize that this was just the beginning of a new life and his daughter was very proud of the first successful steps he had made to improve his life.

While at Victory House, staff assisted Jim in securing his VA Pension and attaining a HUD/VASH voucher for housing and select supportive services. He was slowly building up a secure path for his future. He also continued to develop his long-estranged relationship with his daughter and her new family.  After 16 months, Jim was ready and able to relocate to Colorado to live by his daughter. Victory House staff encouraged him to follow his dream and build back his family. He currently enjoys being a father to his own daughter and a grandfather to her children.

Recently, Jim looked up a staff member at Victory House on Facebook to tell her how thankful he was that Victory House had been there for him when he was ready. He expressed his gratitude that the Victory House staff was open and willing to work with him numerous times until he got it right. 

Because of Jim's previous struggles and the feeling of failure all of us at Victory House experienced when he left the first time, it was such an honor to hear from him. We now realize that we played an important part in helping him on his journey by working with him on his second attempt at recovery. This story for me reflects the true chance for change Pioneer strives to foster. While it is not the staff that makes the change for our clients; it is our staff who provide a safe, comfortable and non-judgmental environment which makes it possible for our clients to do the hard work and make the change that is needed to live a healthy and productive life.

By Tennille Lightfoot, Program Manager, Victory House, Spokane, WA