Our Residents' Stories
My name is Anthony Dragon. I was homeless and first came to the Veterans Place from the Northampton VA back in 2009. Back then it was under a different commander and being structured like boot camp. Granted everyone needs structure in their lives but a struggling veteran just ‘off the street’ with multiple issues and needs special care and understanding. I ended up leaving The Veterans' Place, moving to an apartment in Barre, Vermont. In December 2013 I surrendered my apartment in Barre and moved back to Veterans Place. I was having difficulty adjusting to life and needed help. When I moved back, Phil and Karen were now in charge of the place. I had known Phil from my first stay in 2009 as he was resident then. I settled in nicely as the environment here is quite mellow and relaxing. Since 2009, things had changed with Phil and Karen in command. I was working two jobs and taking on-line college courses in an attempt in finish my BA. Things were going well at the house, my social life was good, my mood was okay then out of nowhere my girlfriend passed away. I sunk into a depression but continued to ‘roll on’ without letting on.
In July of 2015 I transitioned out of the house and into an apartment. Within two days of being at the apartment I began drinking again and to make a long story short, drank all day – every day for the next six months. I only left the house to get more alcohol. During this six month period I isolated from everyone, lost a lot of friends and family, I turned my back on the Veterans Place, Phil, Karen and everyone that helped me there in the past. Addiction does crazy things, not that is any excuse I accept full responsibility for my actions. Over the years I had developed a relationship with Phil that I thought was ‘unbreakable”. Call it ‘tough love’ or whatever but those six months was the longest six months of my life. In the end I thought all was lost, Phil and Karen chose to accept me back at the house if I agreed to rehab and other stipulations.
In December of 2015 after spending five weeks in the Residential Recovery Center (RRC) at the White River Junction VA, I met with Phil, Karen, Tracy Sweeney and Clayton Wood. Together they decided to allow me to come back to the Veterans Place with additional conditions WHICH I most certainly agreed to.
I was diagnosed with severe depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2009. I was a Corrections Lieutenant and worked in a maximum security prison for 17 years. My major issues are that I cannot seem to get the ‘past out of my head’. I think about it all day and I have nightmares about it just about every night, rarely do I sleep in my bed. I have reduced my hours at work to seek therapy at the Veterans Hospital in White River once or twice weekly.
Yes, my story is a boohoo story but without the Veterans Place and the personnel here. There may not be a me. Yes the Veterans Place provides a roof over your head, food and cable television 24/7, and shelter from the elements. The opportunity to start fresh, a new beginning is what it is about. There are few rules and a daily chores, they ask only small monthly participation fee. Their main goal is to insure you are fully ready to transition when your time comes. Financially and mentally and they will do whatever it takes to ensure that happens before you leave. I can’t count the number of times I have needed help financially over the years and each and every time Phil his wife Gail and Karen have been there for me. There are twenty five other residents here and twenty five different personalities and there will be conflicts but that ‘is just what it is’. Transportation to doctors appointments and personal appointments is always provided. Phil and Karen have also made their personal vehicles available when necessary for appointments.