Kevin had never heard of Washington, PA, let alone Washington City Mission, until he came to the mission from a nearby treatment center. He had been in and out of Rehab programs for 15 years, getting clean long enough to make a good impression on the local magistrate or judge. He didn’t think he had a problem with drugs. He used heroin as a way to manage the physical pain he sustained on his construction job. Everybody did it. It was part of his job environment. He needed heroin to maintain his job and he needed his job to maintain his heroin use. Kevin was stuck in a deadly cycle of addiction.
Kevin came from a close and supportive family. He attended Blairsville High-school and in his senior year joined the Navy through the delayed entry program. Immediately after graduation, he left for training camp in Great Lakes, Illinois following in his father’s footsteps.
Kevin fell in love with Navy life. He was attached to the USS George Washington SVN-73, still under construction in Newport News, VA. During the 4 years he was enlisted he also fell in love with a young girl. Before long they married and were expecting a baby daughter.
As it sometime goes, the young couple experienced conflict and divorced. When four years in the Navy were complete Kevin re-enlisted in the Active Reserves so he could be near his daughter in Virginia.
One week-end a month Kevin trained with the Navy doing sea trials and even became part of the aircrew doing surveillance flights. As a civilian he began an apprenticeship for his next career in a union Construction job.
On the construction site Kevin was introduced to a lifestyle that would change his world. “I started abusing alcohol and drugs. It was all part of the job, everyone did it.”
Kevin was injured on the job and the doctor prescribed OxyContin for pain. He took the medication for the pain but also because of the way it made him feel. He noticed he was getting sick on the days he didn’t take the meds and he realized he was “dope sick”. He was addicted and needed the drug to not be sick. Kevin switched to heroin when his prescription ran out. He said it was cheaper to buy heroin than to get the OxyContin. He used heroin every day to maintain his addiction and to keep his job.
As far as he was concerned his daily heroin use didn’t hurt anybody. That all changed one day when he was arrested for possession. He carried out his usual routine and went to a treatment center. While he was there he says. “Something happened to a family member as a direct result of my drug use. I didn’t care enough about myself to quit, but when my mother was put in danger, that opened my eyes”. For the first time he felt the obsession to use drugs lifted from him.
While he was in treatment somebody told him about the City Mission. In April of 2017 Kevin came to the mission and a bed was open. Having never been to a mission before he didn’t know what to expect. He says,” I didn’t know how to explain it, but I had a good feeling about this place.” Because he is a veteran, Kevin moved into the Veteran’s Dormitory. He was welcomed by the other veterans and immediately felt a common bond with the other men.
One year later, Kevin is drug –free. He says the most helpful part of the mission programming for him is the spirituality. “I’m happy and content since I asked for God’s help.” He regularly attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings and weekly chapel services, and meets with counselors at the mission.
Now Kevin is embarking on another change in his life. He says, “I find joy in helping people and I’m praying about changing careers. I’m keeping an open mind about God’s plan for my life.”
In just a few months Kevin will move into the Patriot House, City Mission’s 22 bed Residential Facility for Homeless Veterans. He will act as an on-site Residential Assistant. He’s excited about the opportunity to serve other veterans in the Patriot House. He says,” Everybody has a story. Veterans are using drugs and alcohol to numb their pain and deal with PTSD. They aren’t getting the proper care they need. I’m happy I can be a part of helping veterans.”
Kevin his grateful for what he found at City Mission, “I wanted to be a better person, a normal person in society, like I used to be. City Mission gave me hope when I thought hope was lost. I got my life back at City Mission”.
Listen here to Kevin’s interview on WORD-FM with CEO Dean Gartland and John Hall.