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Antonio Found Employment and a Support Group To Keep Himself Out of Prison

By Antonio Waters

One of my roughest times in life was my transition from military service. After the military, I became a homeless veteran, and quickly was incarcerated. I spent the next seven years in prison. During those years, my plan for release was to head back home to New York. However, nothing went according to plan, and I was released in Indiana. I had to adapt and struggle a great deal after being released from jail.

Before my release I went on a quest to search for housing and I was able to get in contact with Ms. Monet Orr and the veterans services available at Volunteers of America Indiana. But due to the way I was released, I had no money and no way of establishing or producing the necessary documents for me to obtain a state ID. Furthermore, I had no phone, family, and absolutely no clue of where I was or how to get anywhere since I never lived in Indiana.

I felt the danger of returning to prison lurking. However, I chose to remain positive despite the barriers. What kept me fueled was the desire not to be another statistic in the eyes of the judicial system and to push through the hard times. My family from out of state was able to provide the emotional support I needed and played a huge role in helping me maintain a positive mindset. They also were financially able and kind enough to assist me with a week at a motel.

Three weeks after I first contacted Ms. Orr, I was finally able to re-connect with her. We were both relieved. Ms. Orr had kept a bed open for me in spite of not hearing from me again for the past three weeks. Now all I had to do was arrange transportation and get to Brandon Hall, since it was a 30 mile trip.

When I finally arrived I did not change my pace. I could not relax knowing that things still needed to be accomplished such as obtaining a state ID, employment search, and VA enrollment. I was so busy with running around and adjusting to the real world, that I did not realize that the treads on my new shoes were almost gone. Thankfully all the hard work paid off. In six weeks' time and after several painful interviews, I got a job at JW Marriot, one of the largest lodging companies in the country, as a Line Cook.

So, the moral of the story is that no matter what difficult obstacles that lay in your path that with a can-do attitude and seeing how our failures can actually build us up, anything is possible. I had to push myself in order to get what I needed accomplished because no one was going to do it for me. As a homeless veteran with a criminal history, I thought that I would never be able to find a job, but I did!