If You Need a Reset, Come to St. Francis House

Army Veteran DeMarco Haywood served his country from 2005 to 2008. He was a forward observer with Delta Troop 182 in Iraq. “I grew up in Hope, Arkansas. I graduated high school on May 15th, and I was in the Army by May 25th.”

Mr. Haywood looks so serious in this picture. But listening to him talk about his hometown, you see his face light up. “They instilled in us  Bobcats a sense of hope. It’s our legacy because of the name.” He told me about how the city was founded and the Watermelon festival- you could see the sense of pride in his hometown. You see the same sense of pride when he spoke about his time in the military. and being from a military family. “Both my grandfather and my uncle were Army.”

After getting out of the service, he worked for the city of Houston as a diesel mechanic. However, when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he moved back to Hope to live with her and his grandfather. “She fought for two years and then died in 2011.” 

He continued to live in Hope with his grandfather, but his mother’s death sent him into a tailspin. He became depressed and didn’t know where to turn. He began drinking and smoking marijuana and eventually got into trouble for fighting. “I went to the VA here in Little Rock, and I came to St. Francis House. But after I left, it went back to Hope, and it was the same thing all over again. Same friends, same feelings, same problems.”

In 2014, Mr. Haywood knew he needed to make a change. He came back to VA and, eventually, back to St. Francis House. “I went through treatment for PTSD and chemical dependency at the VA, and this time, when I came to St. Francis House, I really worked at keeping my life together. I went to church, I got more involved with my family, and I made friends.”

Mr. Haywood stayed in Little Rock for six years. He got a job at the VA and eventually went to Pulaski Tech and became a certified airplane technician. “It was like my life took off! At the beginning of this year, I got a great job in Florida. It paid well. I was working on airplanes and getting to travel….and then COVID hit. We had a few pilots get sick; we had to cancel contracts; eventually, the whole operation shut down. I stayed as long as I could, but eventually, I knew I had to come back to Arkansas. And I knew St. Francis House would be there for me.”

Mr. Haywood is getting ready to begin a new job and hopes to find a place in Benton to be near work. “I could have stayed with family, but I didn’t want to be a burden. And I knew it would be easier with the support I’d find here. I would tell any Veteran if you want to become a better citizen, better your situation,  need a reset, get back to the standard of person you should be, there is no better place. The services at the VA, the Day Treatment Center, St. Francis House- the whole system is one of the best!”