“It took me more than 15 years to realize I wasn’t in the jungle fighting the enemy,” says Veteran Michael Ortiz. But by then he was alienated from friends and family and addicted to drugs and alcohol.

After Vietnam, Michael was placed in a mental hospital where he was heavily medicated to deal with the myriad issues he was suffering from. He doesn’t remember much from that time or how long he was there, but upon release, he continued to self-medicate to deal with anger, emotional confusion and memories of the war.

Fast forward to 2011 and his third time on the streets: watching TV through a store window, he saw an ad for a veterans fair.  Wanting to get off the streets for good – he went. At the VOALA booth he met Ernest Green, long time VOALA employee and veteran of the US Marines, who brought him to our T-House shelter downtown. Within days he had a case manager and began receiving treatment for PTSD and substance abuse.

Soon after he moved in to our Ballington Plaza and our VS21 program for assistance with employment and permanent housing.

After just under a year at VOALA, Michael got a job, moved in to an apartment, reconnected with his family, and is making up for lost time. With ongoing case management and continued treatment and therapeutic groups, Michael has been able to gain stability and now has a strong handle on his recovery.

VOALA programs address the myriad issues facing Veterans and their families including depression, anxiety, PTSD, TBI, substance use disorders, homelessness, unemployment, and lack of education. Our support helps Veterans overcome the barriers that stand between them and a stable, secure life. Mental health, housing, employment and case management is at the core of our Veterans programs. Please look into the services we offer Veterans.

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