“If You Don’t Want to Turn Your Life Around, Don’t Come to St. Francis House”

Benjamin Price, a Veteran currently housed at St. Francis House under the VA Homeless Veterans Program, served his country from 1975-1977 as an Army artilleryman. “I grew up in Lexa, Arkansas, a town so small we didn’t have any traffic lights and only two stop signs. Everyone had hogs and chickens in your yard and I joined the Army during my senior year of high school because I was tired of slopping hogs and picking cotton. Not even the Army works you harder than your dad on a farm!”

Mr. Price is a fabulous storyteller, and you rarely see him without a smile. “I remember I got a big enlistment bonus, and I was so happy. Then they took out $500 in taxes, and I was disappointed! Of course, it was still more money I’d eve had at one time so that I couldn’t complain!”

After leaving the service, Mr. Price drove trucks, hauling gravel, and all sorts of other items. “I never had a problem getting a job, as soon as they heard I grew up on a farm, they knew I knew how to work hard.” he has one daughter and three grand-daughters from an earlier relationship. “We’re still good friends, and my grand-daughters are wonderful. The oldest is eighteen and wants to be a doctor. The twins are fifteen, and they’re God’s babies. They were preemies so tiny they fit in the palm of your hand.” He was also married for ten years to a woman who worked at the VA.

“But I developed a drug habit. I probably used off and on for forty-three years. I was even at Fort Roots fifteen years ago, but I hadn’t made my mind up then. I left, went to California, eventually came back to Helena. But this time, I was ready to change. I called the VA Crisis Line, and the police and an ambulance showed up. I was at Fort Roots for two days when someone from the Day Treatment came to talk. They got me here. I like going to bed with money in my pocket, waking up with the money still in my pocket,” he laughed. “I like it here, and I’m looking at apartments. I have a pension, and I’m looking forward to cooking and playing with my dogs. I would tell any Veteran that if they don’t want to change, don’t come to St. Francis House. it will change you!”