Giving Me Time and Space

You would never guess it to look at him, but Air Force and Marine Corps Veteran HJ (not real initials) is an eighty year old Viet Nam Veteran! He was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He enlisted in the Air Force right after graduating high school in 1962. “I started as Air Force, but they sent me Fort Benning for specialized training and I ended up transferring to the Marines. The Air Force gave me computer training, but in the Marines I was infantry. I did two tours in Viet Nam. I know t was an unpopular war, but I love this country; it’s the greatest country in the world. And we did our duty. I served my country and they spit on my uniform when I got home. It covered in spit! I just had to ball it up and throw it I the wash. That was wrong. You know, I never made a big deal out it, but today, when someone says “Thank you for your service,” it means a lot to me.”

During his eighty years, HJ has had lots of adventures, on the right and wrong of things. “I was quite the athlete in high school and got a scholarship for track, but I had fallen into a different lifestyle. I was actually a pimp. I never finished school because the lifestyle had me. I did that for fifteen years or so and I have a lot of children. I was young and the ladies were beautiful. I have thirty children.”

HJ has kept up with his children and when he left the life, he worked in corrections, managed restaurants and later had a very successful painting business. “I taught my sons that trade and several of them are painting contractors. Most of the others are in the military; we were a military family. My grandfather fought in WW1 and my father in WW2. Most of my daughters are RNs and one is in medical school now. In fact I gave her my car so she could get back and forth to school more easily.”

HJ was housed until recently. “I was forced to move when the apartments I was in were sold. The new owners are renovating and will not be Section 8. They put us up in a motel for two months, but when that ran out, I came to St. Francis House. But I’ve got an apartment lined up and I’m looking for a vehicle so I can get around. St. Francis House has given me the time and space to find a place to live and continue my life.”