Jerry Sims, an Army Veteran recently housed at St. Francis House under the VA Homeless Veterans Program, served his country from 1978 through 1983. He grew up in Arbyd, Missouri, and joined the Army National Guard in 1978. He became active duty in 1979 as an artillery scout. “I got married while in the military and unfortunately, also developed a drinking problem. We were out in the field a lot and that didn’t help my marriage at all. The marriage problems drove me even deeper into the bottle. I left the military to try and give my marriage and myself a second chance, but that didn’t work out.”
After leaving the military, Mr. Sims worked construction and hospital housekeeping. “I really like that work. I was planning on moving into housekeeping management and becoming a supervisor. But my drinking had gotten worse and I also became opioid-dependent. I’ve done some times in jail; the first when I was twenty-five, the last right before coming to St. Francis House. I’ve been clean for four years and I have no desire to back down that road!”
Mr. Sims came to St. Francis House last August and is getting ready to graduate the program. “I never thought I’d be starting over at sixty,” he stated, “that’s OK. It’s a big step from being a heroin addict to living a productive life and I couldn’t have done it without being here. It gave me more time to stay clean, being partly in society, but not just on my own.” Mr. Sims is working again in hospital housekeeping and hopes to stay at McClelland VA hospital permanently. He would also like to finish his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. “I’m thankful St. Francis House was here. I went through hell trying to find a place so I could leave prison. I made parole on April 1st last year and it took until August to find St. Francis House. Once I did, I was here in two weeks. I’ll always be thankful!