Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
Overton Brooks Veteran Makes His Own Success Story
Measuring success is much more than quantifiable and qualitative results. Depending on a person’s culture success could be defined with several different meanings. Business success may be determined by revenue, success on the battle-field is determined by victory. But, how does a person measure personal success?
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome,” wrote Booker T. Washington, educator, author and advisor.
After high school grad-uation in 1999, Hank Ward enlisted into the U.S. Army National Guard. With col-lege ambitions ahead, he soon found that education would be placed on hold, as his unit prepared for an 11-month deployment to Bosnia, Herzegovina in late 2000.
Following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, his life would be “forever changed,” he said. The return home from Bosnia would be short lived as his unit stood ready and pre-pared to deploy when called. That call would come in 2004.
“I saw and experienced more than anyone should have to. I lost many friends, and witnessed many Iraqi’s lose their lives, as well. I was in country for one year,” Ward stated.
After returning stateside in 2005, Ward attempted to regain the life he remembered. Instead, he withdrew from family and friends, began a dangerous path of drug use and found himself incarcerated twice.
Ward had no home and family members were becoming exhausted by his behavior.
“All throughout my downward spiral, my mom was encour-aging me to get help. I wouldn’t listen. I hit rock bottom,” he remembers.
In 2009 Ward made an early morning phone call to his mother—it was then she took him to Overton Brooks VA Medi-cal Center. He was admitted into a 14-day detox program, fol-lowed by a 28-day residential substance abuse program.
“When I graduated that program I was still broke and home-less. But I was clean and determined to change my life. I faced the [legal] charges I had, and with a lawyer I was able to show the courts of the progress that I had made.”
Ward was given another chance and he looked ahead to the future. He discovered the Vocational Rehabilitation and Em-ployment Program for Veter-ans and the educational op-portunities offered. He also took advantage of the com-pensatory Incentive Therapy program at OBVAMC, earning a wage, while making employ-ment a natural habit.
The VA Homeless Program qualified Ward for the HUD-VASH (Housing & Urban De-velopment—Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) program. Through a partnership with Volunteers of America (VOA) he was able to find an apartment and the assistance needed to pursue his education. This is commonly referred to as the OBVAMC Homeless Programs-Grant and Per Diem partnership with VOA.
“I had some freedom, and I had rules. But, I had a place to lay my head, and wash my clothes while I continued to work on myself. I needed to learn how to live again.”
Ward enrolled in the Northwest Louisiana Technical College and received his electrician’s diploma in May 2012. As determi-nation had it, he now works as an electrician for Overton Brooks VAMC.
Success isn’t measured by popularity or bank accounts. Success could be how a person responds to adversity and the measures they take to perform better and rebuild their life.
Earlier this year Hank Ward purchased a vehicle, and to make matters better, he purchased a three-bedroom, two-bath home. Hank Ward is a homeowner.
Ward has a message to other Veterans not using VA health care and especially Veterans who are homeless or expecting to be homeless.
“Utilize the amazing support and the programs that Overton Brooks offers. Overton Brooks VAMC saved my life.”