Andre, born and raised in Kentwood, joined the Army and found success and satisfaction. He liked the structure of the military and opportunities to see new places.
After completing his service and returning home, Andre found transition to civilian life challenging. “I had too much time and fell into bad things. I started drinking to cope,” he says. Andre plunged into addiction. His relationships suffered, and repeated attempts at sobriety failed.
“I reached the point where I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. I went into a treatment program. Getting clean was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Andre admits.
Soon, Andre found a friend who made the difference—LaKiesha, a Volunteers of America Veterans Services Case Manager. Andre met LaKiesha at Veterans Administration offices, where she was doing outreach for our programs.
“She struck up a conversation,” Andre says. “I was proud and didn’t want to ask for help. I also didn’t really trust people.”
Andre says his addiction had damaged his relationships to the point that he had no one to turn to for support to stay clean. LaKiesha understood these issues and persuaded Andre to join the Volunteers of America’ Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
“Whenever I needed something, she was there for me,” Andre says. “She’d call to encourage me—to stay clean, work through problems, anything. She helped me find a job. She worked with me on applications, interview skills and even with transportation.”
Today, Andre lives in Gretna and is employed at the VA Medical Center in New Orleans.
“Having my own place means everything. Home gives you a sense of pride and comfort. I have my own transportation, work full-time and continue to save. It feels great to do things on your own.”
Andre acknowledges he has endured the worst. “But I’ve learned to trust and that’s because of help from people like LaKiesha at Volunteers of America. She believes in me and, more importantly, has helped me believe in myself.”