Wednesday, February 6, 2019U.S. Army and Vietnam Veteran David Griffith, “Griff” struggled with drinking and drugs almost his entire life, which also led to jail time and estrangement from family. The Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) Specialist at the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center (Altoona, PA) provided Griff the opportunity to come to the Butler VA’s Domiciliary over additional jail time. In May 2017, Griff started at the Domiciliary (Dom).
“While in the Dom, I decided it was time I listen to someone. There was comradery, other Veterans, and all the people there were very helpful, kind, and talked to me like I was somebody for a change – not an addict (like I was),” said Griff.
The Butler VA’s 56-bed Domiciliary is a residential facility for eligible Veterans who may be dealing with issues such as homelessness, mental health, substance abuse and unemployment. The Domiciliary provides a residential, rehabilitative, therapeutic community with a goal of successfully reintegrating Veterans back into the community.
“Being an addict all my life, I lied to a lot of people. At the Dom, I learned to tell the truth – get honest with all the people involved in my recovery, with God, and with myself,” shared Griff.
While still at the Dom, and through VA’s Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Program, Griff started working in the Kitchen at the Butler VA. Soon after, a job opened up, and with encouragement, he applied and was hired. When selected for the position, Griff cried because he was so grateful.
“You often hear negative news about the government and VA, but the Butler VA is an amazing, amazing facility and the people here are outstanding!”
Today Griff is a full-time Food Service Worker at the Butler VA, his family is back in his life, and he recently celebrated two years sobriety. Griff is also active in the Veteran ‘X’ program at the Butler VA (and plans to continue). He recently got a service dog to continue to help with his mental health recovery, and plans to buy a house this Spring.
“All of these things wouldn’t have happened without all the people here at the Butler VA. I have the life I have today thanks to all of the people here– from the CWT workers to the Doctors! I’m proud to be a Vietnam Veteran now. There was a time when I was ashamed of it. I hold my head high and I walk with dignity and pride, and it’s all because of what I learned here.”
Griff’s advice to other Veterans: “Get involved with the VA. And any bad thoughts you’re having, call the Veterans Crisis Line.” (Dial 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to talk to someone)