It was economics that brought Mike to the City Mission in March 2016. He spent twelve years in the Marine Corps and served in three overseas conflicts before being honorably discharged in 1998. After his discharge he went home and helped care for his aging grandmother while he attended school. He went on to work for trucking companies around the country and drove big rigs over the road. In 2012 he sustained an injury to his knee from driving. That injury changed his life. Within a year he had numerous surgeries. After months of physical therapy and rehabilitation he could finally walk again. Unfortunately, he couldn’t drive truck anymore because he couldn’t pass the physical exam requirements. Mike applied for jobs everywhere. “Employers asked me why I left my last job. When I told them the truth, that I went out on worker’s compensation, typically that was the end of the interview. It was a rough time. I had run out of resources”. Mike had run out of more than a job and a place to live though. He had run out of hope.
Mike knew about City Mission from literature he received in the mail. He knew about the devastating fire that happened in 2015. He remembered reading how the Washington community came together to help. He said, “I knew if I ever had to go somewhere for help, if I ever needed a home, this would be the place.” The outpouring of concern during and after the fire spoke to Mike about how valuable City Mission was to the community. It was a stamp of approval for him.
In March of 2016 Mike was jobless and homeless, so he came to City Mission. “I had no hope until I walked in the door that day. When I walked in I had the feeling of knowing where my next meal was coming from, where I was going to lay my head tonight and that I was in a place that represents what Jesus ministry was all about; taking care of the poor, taking care of the young, and the helpless. I saw that right here, first hand. It was very powerful from the first moment.”
Along with giving him hope, Mike says the City Mission literally saved his life. Just a month after coming to the mission Mike was diagnosed with cancer. When the staff and residents found out about his diagnosis they offered their help and encouragement without hesitation. Mike shares, “I felt like God was saying to me, ‘Don’t worry, I have this.’ I literally cried.” From that moment Mike embraced the news of his cancer, “It actually forced me to rely more on God, to come to him with this problem and with all my problems. I had a peace that I never knew before. ”
Mike stayed in the Veteran’s dormitory while at the mission. While he was there he started to deal with the effects of combat that he’s avoided for so many years. He states, “I suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and I’ve gotten a lot of help from the mission with that. Certain things were happening. I was having dreams, visions. For me, it happens at night or in the early morning hours. I don’t sleep well. It really makes you feel vulnerable.” He’s working with a therapist and together they’ve developed a plan, for when those vulnerable moments happen. Mike smiles and says, “That has really helped, but the best coping skill I have is the Bible. I read God’s word and I get so comforted by it. Mainly Psalm 103 where it talks about healing, Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”
While in the Veteran’s dormitory Mike used his leadership skills he learned as a Marine to reach out to new residents. He led Bible Studies and morning devotions every Monday. “I talked with every new man that came in to the program. I offered to pray for them and gave them my phone number. I told them they could call me, day or night.” He says when someone new comes into the mission, they may not know what to expect, “Community living can be culture shock!”
Mike stayed in the Veteran’s dormitory until November 2016 before he moved into an apartment in the Men’s Next Step Program. His health has improved. He completed treatments and he is cancer free. When the doctor shared the results of his tests, he fell to his knees and cried with gratitude.
Because he is grateful, Mike wants to help homeless veterans like himself who suffer with PTSD and other issues. The new Veterans Residential Facility will provide homeless veterans like Mike the time and the place they need to heal.
Mike thanks God for the City Mission. “The mission saved my life. I can’t think of better place to be.”
Because of your support, City Mission is able to provide a temporary residence for veterans facing a crisis with housing and other life challenges. We look forward to the completion of the new Veteran’s Residential Facility in the coming year.