Gerard is an Army veteran who served his country honorably in a stateside military hospital during the Vietnam War. After completing his years of service, and as a result of his undiagnosed and untreated paranoid schizophrenia, Gerard found himself caught up in the drug culture of the 1970s: in and out of prison, mental institutions and eventually homeless – sleeping on park benches, in alleys and even in the woods of Rock Creek Park. During this 30 year period, Gerard lost his job, his family and friends, and worst of all, he lost hope.
Ten years ago Gerard found Pathways to Housing DC and his life changed once again. We offered him a home – no strings attached. For Gerard, having a place to call his own and a roof over his head allowed him to focus on getting sober and managing his mental illness. In the days, months, and years that followed, Gerard and his Pathways team partnered in his recovery. They first worked to achieve smaller goals, like visiting a doctor and going grocery shopping, and then moved on to much larger ones, including getting a well-paying job. In his own words, “Once I attained stable housing and genuine support, my mental and physical health improved and I have been able to re-educate and re-train myself.” Today, Gerard has an apartment, a bike, a three-computer workstation and a positive outlook and mission in life. He works as a certified Peer Health Specialist, teaching other formerly homeless veterans about wellness tools and strategies to live meaningful, positive and healthy lives.
Read more about Gerard in The Washington Post: Veteran Who Found His Way Circles Back to Help Others.