Dear Mr. President:
Yesterday I talked about how the system works against the poor, and how easily people can, and do become homeless. Today I’d like to tell you another story of how fast things can change even when you think you have it all… the story of Dennis.
After graduating from high school in 1962 Dennis joined the U.S. Army during a time when the buildup in Vietnam was just beginning. He was fortunate enough to serve most of his time as a purser in Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
After his honorable discharge he had a few jobs of varying duration, but his real passion began when he started in the building trade. It wasn’t long before he had a partner and they were building spec homes on the coast between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Dennis had a lovely wife and two great kids, and lived in a beautiful home he built for himself and his family. They had a big boat, new cars and were living the American dream.
Then came the first Gulf War in 1990… Dennis and his partner had just finished two, million dollar homes that were on the market for sale… sales that never happened because the real estate market came to a screeching halt. What followed were a series of events that have happened many times over, to many other people… the loans from the bank went into default and the properties were repossessed.
Unable to get additional loans, it wasn’t long before Dennis had to sell his boat, cars, TV’s and all the ‘trappings’ that many men feel are necessary to prove they are good providers and successful businessmen. Not long after losing most of his possessions, including his own home, his wife filed for a divorce… by then alcohol had become a problem that exacerbated an already difficult situation.
Dennis recovering from a stroke and heart surgery
Dennis’ family tried very hard to get him into recovery programs, but he as too proud and too stubborn to get the help he so desperately needed. As one thing follows another, Dennis’ home became his truck with his tools and a few family possessions. After several run ins with the law, his truck was impounded and at that point he lost everything and was living on the streets.
After suffering a stroke, having open heart surgery, getting a little apartment, and maintaining sobriety for over a year, Dennis decided to start drinking again… and went back to being homeless. That was five years ago, and no one in his family has heard from him since. So you see Mr. President… anyone can fall on hard times and end up homeless, alcoholism is a terrible disease, and there, but for the Grace of God, go I… ~ And did I mention Mr. President… Dennis is my brother.
Your Gadfly Granny