Meet a Veteran: Stephen
Stephen B served in the United States Army for over 8 years. He served in the line of fire in Iraq and experienced the trauma of wartime and death of friends. Stephen found himself unable to cope with tremendous changes as he entered civilian life, and found himself struggling with PTSD, chemical dependency, and eventually homelessness. After several failed attempts to get sober, Stephen spent months sleeping on couches, outside, or in his vehicle.
Stephen found U.S.VETS after he was approached by the outreach team at the Long Beach VA. “I had finally hit my ‘rock bottom’,” he says, “and I took the opportunity to enroll in the substance abuse treatment program and live with a roof over my head and a meal in my stomach.”
With the “one day at a time” mantra running through his mind, Stephen was able to do something amazing. “I stayed sober. I locked into the program, got a sponsor, worked steps, volunteered, and did everything I was asked to do and sought more, just to stay clean; and I did. I have been clean for over a year now.”
Stephen was also at the mercy of the courts, fighting to keep a relationship with his family. Through therapy and support groups, he worked hard on his relationship with his children, as well as their mother. During his time at U.S.VETS, Stephen has established career goals, and is currently enrolled in college courses to become a substance abuse counselor. He also volunteers at the VA. Stephen has even renewed his passion of playing softball. “I was so afraid at first, but I was inspired to pick it up again, and I am even better than when I was using,” he says.“I play about three nights a week now, and constantly get calls to play pick-up games. It is truly amazing to be back out there and to feel so healthy.”
“Someone gave me a chance, and I was ready to take it,” Stephen says of his accomplishments. “I have a new way of thinking about life today, and I believe I have a bright future ahead of me.” Looking forward, Stephen hopes to be reunited with his family, remain involved in 12 step fellowships, and pursue a career in substance abuse counseling, forever taking it “one day at a time.”