FORT WAYNE, Ind.(WANE) - The mission of Shepherd's House is to rebuild the lives of those who society views as hopeless into sober and productive assets to the community.
Shepherd's House is a transitional living facility for homeless veterans with addictions.
The shelter was founded by former Marine Lonnie Cox and his wife Barb in 1998. Kenny and Tracey Barr have been house managers for nearly seven years.
Tracey says Shepherd's House is different from other facilities. "We're faith based" she said. "We believe without faith, men in recovery will not last long term. We think that the foundation underneath them is what keeps them soild and moving forward."
Kenny, says the shelter means the world to him. "My brother was a veteran and I missed it. I lost him to alcohol. He drank until his liver fell out and he was only 60."
Kenny says the shelter is a second chance to help others. "Losing him reminded me that veterans in this community need some help. Now, instead of helping just one veteran, I get a chance to help hundreds."
Residents attend regular recovery meetings and a caring staff helps them create an effective support system. They're held accountable to the rehabilitation community for behavior as well as for the completion of daily work assignments. Dignity and a healthy self-image are viewed as basic to recovery.
Shepherd's House is also the only clinical setting in this part of the state.
Richard Donovan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He says the Reboot Program integrates spirituality and facing up to the trauma that veterans have experienced. "A lot of these veterans will carry some guilt that they're really not responsible for." Donovan said. "Looking at it through a spiritual lense can help them come to terms with some of the unpleasant aspects of their experience."
71 year old Bob McCormick has experienced it first hand. The Vietnam War veteran found himself at Shepherd's House after a series of family tragedies. "This place is the real thing" McCormick said. "This is the place to deal with it. This is a second chance."
Darrol Wynn spent 12 years in the Marines, rising to the level of Staff Sergeant.
He had difficulty transitioning back to civilian life after a career in the military. " I was homeless and had no place to go" Wynn said. " It wasn't a difficult transition coming here, but it was making that initial jump. Like hey, I need help."
Wynn recently passed his 100 day mark at Shepherd's House and now has his life back on track.
He's enrolled back in school. When he graduates he plans to pursue a career helping fellow veterans transition from the military to civilian life.
Kenny Barr said veterans signed on the dotted line to defend this country. "They were willing to give their life in service of this country and our freedom. They deserve a lot more respect than what I think America really gives them."
Shepherd's House aims to give them the dignity and respect they deserve.
To learn more about Shepherd's House or how to donate, CLICK HERE.