Homeless. Veteran. These two words don’t belong together. How could someone who is willing to die for our country wind up on the streets, kicked to the curb after their service? I’m on a mission to draw as many of Alabama’s homeless veterans as possible and let them tell their stories.
We were honored to spend a day in August at the American Legion Veterans Retreat near Wetumpka, Alabama, with more than 60 veterans from all over the state who are struggling with PTSD. Army vet Shane Bright and several others agreed to share their stories about PTSD and homelessness with Reckon and AL.com.
Patrick Shane Bright, Birmingham
U.S. Army, 2011-2017
“My name is Patrick Shane Bright, I go by Shane. Fort Drum, New York, that’s where I was stationed.”
After two tours in Afghanistan, Shane was diagnosed with PTSD in the Army five years ago. “I don’t like talking about it, but it’s either them or us, and you got kids you have to look for coming towards you and you have to do a lot of stuff I didn’t enjoy doing. That’s one of the main reasons I’m here.”
Shane struggles with PTSD, substance abuse and a “myriad” of other problems. But he’s determined to get his mojo back and give back to his community, and to help other veterans. “You got to give it to keep it.”
Before he joined the military, Shane put himself through Auburn by singing and playing the guitar. He loves the blues, rock n’ roll, hip-hop and all kinds of music.
At the time of this meeting, Shane was homeless and going through transitional therapy at the Tuscaloosa VA, which he credits for improving his outlook on life. He was engaging and sincere. And determined. For the first time in a long time, he’s singing again. “I know what I’m capable of.”
Veterans Crisis Line - 1-800-273-8255 press 1
Do you know a veteran in Alabama who is or has been homeless and may be willing to share their story? Send me an email – Jdcrowe@al.com. For homeless housing assistance in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, contact Housing First @ (251)-450-3345. For the Birmingham area, contact PriorityVeteran.org @ (205) 458-8920. In the Huntsville area, visit Stand Down together Huntsville, Inc. at www.standdownhsv.org, or call 256-527-9643. Or call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-424-3838.