The following is a brief biographical overview of each participant’s life as they related it throughout their oral history and thus reflect a summary of the interviewee’s personal narrative. The following biographies reflect much of the interviewee’s personal word choice when describing events in their life.
Evette was the only female interviewed for the project. Evette is a U.S. Air Force veteran, serving from 1983-1985. She was honorably released from service through a Red Cross program before her service contract was up when her mother became terminally ill and needed constant care. During her time in the military she served as an administrative specialist where she processed orders and helped with general base operations, later a mail clerk, and finally a special orders clerk where she worked directly under the base commander helping with administrative duties in Azores, Portugal. She traveled extensively overseas during her time in the military to places like Germany, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Evette moved to Richmond when her mother died and she became homeless in Pennsylvania. She found an apartment in Richmond, where she made a deposit. Upon arriving, she found that the apartment had been a scam and she quickly ran out of money while trying to find somewhere else to live. She then became homeless and soon began living in the Richmond overflow housing as it was wintertime. When the overflow shelter closed for the season, she began living on the streets where she lived under a bridge with a community of other homeless people. She has been working with a Virginia Supportive Housing case manager for almost two years and has been successfully housed for a year through the HUD-VASH voucher program. She spends her time now helping her elderly and disabled neighbors live independently and is looking for part time work to help fill her time.
To hear more from Evette’s story, click here
To see the full transcription of Evette’s interview, click here
Harold is a U.S. Army veteran originally from Shamokin, PA, a small coalmining town in central Pennsylvania. Joining the Army in 1984, Harold served as a team leader in a cohesion unit in Monteray, California. He views himself as having been chronically homeless since childhood as he was raised in a foster home and released from the system at age 18. After leaving the Army with an Other Than Honorable discharge for substance abuse, he returned to Pennsylvania and his family and he eventually ended up homeless after going through a variety of family and medical issues with his mother and sister. He came to Richmond in March of 2015 on his last $200.00. Shortly after coming to Richmond, he connected with Virginia Veterans and Family Support (Formerly Virginia Wounded Warriors) where his caseworker helped him find housing. He is now housemates with James. Harold spends his time now working on crafts and projects through the VA and hopes to one day build his own house on top of a hill.
To hear more of Harold’s story, click here.
To see Harold and James’ full transcript, click here.
James is a U.S. Army and Navy veteran from Richmond, VA. He joined the military in in 1986 and served 22 years between the 2 services. While in the military he served in field artillery, as military police (MP), and then finally in special ops. James was deployed to Panama and also served in Gulf War 1. During his time in the service he was also stationed in England, Japan, Korea, and Germany. James became homeless when the lady he was living with died. He could not afford to take over the lease of her apartment. He moved in with his grandparents and soon after, his grandfather died. He could not afford to support his grandmother on his own, and he was then left with nowhere to live. He lived on the streets, in his truck, and bounced from place to place before partnering up with a Virginia Supportive Housing case manager and becoming a participant in the HUD-VASH program to obtain permanent housing. James spends his time now taking classes at the VA and is working on his struggles with alcohol. He hopes to buy his own home soon.
To hear more of James’ story, click here.
To see Harold and James’ full transcript, click here.
Calvin is a U.S. Navy veteran who is originally from Columbia, South Carolina. Calvin served in the Navy from 1976 to 1983 as a navigator on a nuclear submarine. He did eight deterrent patrols and was underwater on the submarine for 90 days at a time. On his first submarine mission, he was the only African American out of the 150 sailors on board the ship. After serving on the submarine, he was a Navy Absentee Collection Unit Officer. He left the military with an honorable discharge and went into the construction business. Work brought him to Richmond and he ended up staying. He lost his construction job and soon ran out of money, finding himself homeless. He entered into the VA assistance program for homeless veterans and ended up in transitional housing with Liberation Family Services. He has been housed at LFS for a year and a half and is working on overcoming his troubles with PTSD. He plans on moving to Texas for work soon.
To here more of Calvin’s story, click here.
To see Calvin’s interview transcript, click here.
Carl in a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is originally from Arlington, Virginia. He joined the Marines in 1972 with his best friend from high school when he was 17. In the states, he was stationed at Camp Lejune in North Carolina and then Cherry Point in North Carolina. He was then sent over seas and served in Okinawa, Japan. During his time in the Marines, he worked in motor transport preparing vehicles for use and participating in delivery convoys. Carl left the Marines in 1975 for medical reasons. He became homeless in 2015 after he lost his job and could no longer afford his home that he shared with his wife. Upon losing the home, he and his wife separated. He spent this time staying with friends and family before accepting help from the VA and coming to stay at Liberation Family Services. Carl currently spends much of his time reading and listening to jazz music. He hopes to own his own house again and have a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
To hear more of Carl’s story, please click here.
To see Carl’s full transcript, click here.
Cordell is a U.S. Army veteran who is originally from Newark, New Jersey. He was drafted right out of high school in 1967. He served as a finance clerk for three years before his conscript was up in 1970. From there, he used his G.I. Bill benefits to attend Essex County College. He is a recovering addict and has been clean for 25 years. He became homeless in 2014 when he moved out of his apartment complex after a murder took place in the main office. He was expecting to find affordable housing quickly, but was unable to do so. He ended up living on the streets before hooking up with River City Veteran’s Employment program where they directed him to a recovery house where he stayed prior to coming to Liberation Family Services. Cordell spends his weekends checking out the local flea markets and reading. He hopes to leave Liberation Family Services and find a place of his own.
To see clips from Cordell’s story, click here.
To see Cordell’s full interview transcript, click here.
Don is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is from Cleveland, Ohio. He went to Ohio Institute of Technology before joining the Marines in 1978. He was stationed at Camp Lejune in North Carolina. After leaving the Marines, he returned to Ohio. He became homeless in Ohio after losing his job. He bounced between staying with friends and sleeping in his car. Becoming very depressed about his situation and how difficult it was to get help, Don attempted suicide. Soon after, he moved to Virginia to live with an old girlfriend. After a few months of living with her, and unsuccessful attempts to get a job, they broke off their relationship and he was homeless again. He phoned the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline and they advised him on finding shelter. He lived in the overflow shelter temporarily and also on the streets in Richmond before finding housing at Liberation Family Services. Don spends his time volunteering and riding his motor scooter.
To hear more of Don’s story, click here.
To see Don’s full interview transcript, click here.
Richard is a U.S. Army veteran who is from Winston Salem, North Carolina. He joined the military right out of high school because no jobs were available and he felt the military would offer him a stable career as an alternative. During his time in the Army, he worked in field artillery and drove a tank for 3 years. He was stationed in Louisiana and Germany before he was honorably discharged. Later in life, Richard getting into legal trouble and using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. When he had a heart attack in 2006, he decided to get clean and return to the straight path. In 2011 Richard moved to Virginia and found himself taking care of an elderly family member for about three and a half years. When she went into a nursing home, he was unable to afford her house and became homeless. He called the Veteran’s Crisis line and was directed to the V.A. in Richmond where he began working with a homeless outreach coordinator while staying at the shelter. Soon after, he moved to Liberation Family Services where he now lives. Richard just graduated from school where he got his supervising asbestos license. He has a few job offers and he hopes one of them will work out. In the meantime, he is looking for his own home and enjoys giving back to the community at LFS.
To hear more of Richard’s story, click here.
To see Richard’s full interview transcript, click here.
Thomas is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Oklahoma. He joined the Marines in 1975 at the age of 17 with two of his cousins after being kicked out of his home by his stepfather and becoming homeless. After finishing his training, he was put in a reserve unit in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he spent 19 months. He then became a drifter and traveled all over the United States, sleeping under bridges, in cars, and on the streets. When he came to Virginia he spent a total of 26 years incarcerated in federal prison. He became homeless again upon being released from prison while participating in a transition program through the Salvation Army. Through this program he came to live at Liberation Family Services. Thomas spends his days writing fictional stories. He hopes to be able to get his stories published one day.
To hear more of Thomas’s story, click here.
To see the full transcript of Thomas’s interview, click here.
Wilbur is a U.S. Air Force veteran from Long Island, New York. He joined the Air Force in 1970. He was stationed in Texas, the Phillipenes, and Thailand. After leaving the military, Wilbur spent 30 years working as an operating room technician at the V.A. hospital in Richmond. He became homeless when his brother, who he was staying with, told him he could no longer stay there. Wilbur contacted the V.A. to help him get settled in new housing, and soon after he became a resident at Liberation Family Services. Wilbur enjoys sleeping and relaxing and he hopes to one day have a home and property of his own where he can have a variety of animals.
To hear more of Wilbur’s story, click here.
To see the full transcript of Wilbur’s interview, click here