“If You’re Spiritually Empty, Nothing Goes Right”

Charlie Williams, Jr. is an Army Veteran currently housed at St. Francis House under the VA Homeless Veterans Program. He served his country from 1975 through 1981. Mr. Williams was with a mobile support unit that provided everything from laundry facilities to delousing. “I was stationed in Turkey during the Afghanistan-Russia war and also served in Norway and Germany. I came back to the states in ‘78 and became active reserve and then regular reserve”.

He came back to his native Arkansas and used his GI benefits to go to vocational school in Pine Bluff, but in 1999 he moved to Little Rock to go through chemical dependency treatment at Foot Root. He came to St. Francis House after completing that program. “I worked at McClellan VA Hospital, got my own place, all with the help of St. Francis House. St. Francis is a great place. It made me feel like a real person again, one that deserved a chance to get back to living a normal life.”

Mr. Williams stayed clean and sober and living that life for fifteen years. However, in 2008, Mr. Williams retired because of medical issues. “Between my military service and work at McClellan they gave me and full ten years of benefits.”  He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and realized how much of his addiction was a form of
self-medication. He went back into treatment and went through the Dual-Diagnosis program at the VA. Once more, he came to St. Francis House. “St. Francis House provided me with the structure I needed to adapt to sobriety again. I got back on my feet and was doing well. But in 2012, I was living in North Little Rock and I lost both my parents. I let grief take over and lost belief in myself. It was back into treatment and back to St. Francis House. “This is where I chose to come. It was where I had found my strength and began trusting in God again. I got involved with groups and even began helping others. St. Francis House helped me stay clean for another seven years.”

But when you’re dealing with addictions and mental illness, some triggers will continue to take you down. “In August 2018 I lost my brother. Then in January of 2019, my son died. I had moved to Texas to help out when he got ill. I started drinking again. Eventually, all I can say is, God spoke to me. I caught a train back to Little Rock.  I went straight to the McClellan ER, then Foot Root, Rehab, and psych treatment. And when it was done, I went to the Veterans Day Treatment Center and got back to St. Francis House. Gary Clemmons welcomed me home.”

Mr. Williams is working hard on not simply maintaining his sobriety, but becoming physically, mentally and spiritually better. “We have groups here and I go to a group at Mr. Clemmons’ church on Saturday. It’s mostly Veterans. We’re all learning how to keep an open mind so we can learn and grow. For me, that doesn’t happen unless I get out of my self-will and turn to a Higher Power. If you’re spiritually empty, nothing goes right.”

Mr. Williams has his voucher for housing, he has built up some savings and in his words “I have a purpose. And I love St. Francis House. It’s a great place to come, to network with other Veterans. I truly believe it is God-sent.”