Canadian Veteran Battles Homelessness
Source: Beach Metro, October 30, 2018
Jonah is a Canadian veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan where he worked as a Physician’s Assistant.
In the role of serving his country, Jonah was traveling the streets of the war zone in a Canadian Forces vehicle when it hit a roadside bomb. An IED.
Jonah was thrown 15 meters, then flown thousands of kilometres to a military hospital in Germany.
"One day I am in Afghanistan. The next, I am waking up in Germany with no recollection of how I got there."
After his hospital stay, Jonah returned to his unit, bringing with him shrapnel in his hip and PTSD. Six months later he was sent home. Years later, Jonah is fighting for his pension and fighting an addiction.
“I was a dry drunk for 23 years,” states Jonah. “Then I had a drink. And then another. And another.”
Ashamed to go to family for support, Jonah went homeless, even with a daughter living minutes away. That’s when Jonah turned to Haven Toronto. It was here he met Ruth, a Support Worker who Jonah credits for saving his life.
“Haven Toronto staff are encouraging.
They don’t judge you and they
don’t treat you like you are fragile.”
Jonah is no longer homeless and he is no longer a client of Haven Toronto. Today, Jonah lives in the east end of the city and works downtown at St. Mike’s.
“I can’t change the past. I know that,” says Jonah, “but I can change the future.” He adds, "I have saved up and have been approved for a mortgage. I am excited to say that I will start looking for a condo this year. And I am proud to say, I am 3 years sober.”
Haven Toronto opened in 1933 when May Birchard, a social activist and past Toronto Councillor and Trustee, saw Canadian veterans waiting in line at soup kitchens
Knowing that veterans deserve better, Birchard founded the drop-in centre which, 85 years later, operates on Jarvis across from the Moss Park Armoury.
The only facility of its kind in Canada, Haven Toronto serves thousands of elder men age 50+ and sees an average of 400 clients a day. Of new clients, 6 percent self-identify as veterans.