Glenn Mathis, a Veteran currently housed at St. Francis House under the VA Homeless Veterans Program, joined the Army right after high school. “Viet Nam was still going on, and I decided I might as well join and get to do what I wanted to do before they told me what to do,” he said with a laugh. He remained in the Army until 1985 and was stationed in Fort Belvoir, Va, Fort Shafter, HI, and Camp Humphreys, Korea. He served as a cartographer and photo interpreter.
After leaving the service, he returned to Florida, where his parents, brother, and sister still lived and worked for fourteen years with a civilian company doing cartography for the military. “In 2008, when the economy tanked, I had to find other work, so I worked in automotive stores and then as a boat rigger for Bass pro. “That was a dream job, fixing up the boats and then taking them out for a test on the water! I did that until I had a stroke in 2015. ”
The stroke affected his body’s ability to manage heat, and he had a seizure. The area he was in didn’t have a VA hospital, only a clinic, so he and his girlfriend moved to a small town in Arkansas, where she has a family. He began treatment at the VA, going back and forth as needed. In February of this year, his girlfriend dies from lung cancer, and he moved in with her daughter. “I soon found I was in an abusive situation and eventually called the sheriff. They didn’t have a way to get me to Little Rock. The sheriff told me to call 911 and say I thought I was having a heart attack,” Mr. Mathis commented. With a wry smile, he said, “Soon there was another bad situation and I really did think I was having a heart attack. I have cardio-vascular disease, so I took my nitro and called 911. They brought me to the VA hospital, and when I was ready to leave, the VA social workers referred me to St. Francis House. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into; I just knew it was better than what I had left.”
Mr. Mathis came to St. Francis House July 8th and quickly became a part of the St. Francis House family. He has found a place to live and is scheduled to move out at the end of the month. “SSVF is helping me with deposits, and I have my benefits, so after that, I’m making it on my own. I’m old enough to go back to school at no personal cost, so I’m planning on going back and taking drafting technology. I use to be certified, and I’d like to have that again. I want to stay busy and keep learning.”
“If you’re a Veteran in a bad situation, go the Day Treatment Center and talk to the counselors. There’s no need for you to go it alone. And to those of you who support St. Francis House, it’s truly helpful. Not just the place to live, but all the classes in social interactions, managing behaviors and emotions, and recognizing addictive behaviors. “
We’ll miss you when you leave, Mr. Mathis and wish you good luck in all you do!