“Be Grateful for Everything”

US Navy Veteran, Paul Pilayo,  is a friendly gentleman with a great smile! He served his country from 1972-1975. Stationed in on a carrier during Viet Nam, he worked as a flight deck director. He is a native of Hawaii and moved to Arkansas fifteen years ago.

“I moved here to be near my son. He’s my youngest. His mother is deceased, and he moved here to live with his maternal grandmother. He was six, and we were talking on the phone and talked about how much he missed me, so here I am.  I have two daughters still in Hawaii, lots of grandchildren, and even some great-grands.”

After leaving the service, Paul worked as a painter, first for other companies and then for himself. “I was taking a lot of medications due to PTSD issues and nine back surgeries. I wanted custody of my son, and DHS  told me I needed to get off the meds. I did, and I got custody. But then I made a huge mistake. I had a lot of medications leftover, and I just didn’t think about what would happen. I sold some; I went to jail. I got eighteen years but was paroled after only six. They paroled me to St. Francis’s House, and so here I am.”

Mr. Pilayo has used his time at St. Francis House to get his paperwork together for his benefits, including disability. “The Veteran’s representative from Congressman Hill’s office helped me with a lot. I’m still waiting on my Social Security card, but I just got my first disability check. St. Francis House has helped in so many ways. I have a roof, food to eat, and direction. I started working in the kitchen at the very beginning, and that gives me a little stipend. I get to keep some, and I have to save some. I’m trying to get permission to move in with my son, but if my parole officer disagrees, then I’ll start working on finding a place. I want to start doing some house painting again too.”

“St. Francis House is a great place if you’ve got the right attitude. Be grateful for everything. Treat everyone with respect- staff, other Veterans. We’re all in the same boat with our own issues, and if we help each other, we will all get through it.”