On the occasion of Remembrance Day, we met Charles*, a veteran, who kindly told us about his personal journey and his new life, thanks to our “Sentinels” program.
Charles trained in the army when he was 19 years old at the Leadership and Recruit School of Saint-Jean de Richelieu. His training included physical training of course, but the mental was also put to the test. “The objective was to break us”, he confesses. After these 10 weeks of training, he decided to join the Naval Reserve, as he was not interested in continuing a traditional military career. This situation allowed him to combine his work during the week with the reserve on weekends. He did this for three summers.
Afterwards, Charles took on a series of jobs: housekeeping, dishwashing in restaurants and telemarketing. However, he had some spending problems and a gambling addiction that quickly got him into trouble. He explains that it is his pride that prevented him from asking his family for help, hey were not aware of his situation. “If they had known that I needed help, they would have judged me.
He left his hometown for Montreal, where he hoped to get another chance. There he was welcomed at La Maison du Père, where he was advised to join the Sentinels program.
“The military training was hard, but it was nothing compared to living on the street. That, nothing can prepare you for.”
Launched in 2017 by the Old Brewery Mission, the Sentinels program is a long-term housing program for veterans who are homeless or vulnerable and have precarious housing. This is the first initiative of its kind in Quebec. The program provides the support they need to stabilize their situation, overcome trauma and chronic homelessness, find suitable housing and reintegrate into the community.
Charles, one of 34 veterans who have taken advantage of the program to date, joined the program a year ago.
He currently lives in transitional housing in the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Pavilion, which includes a furnished single room and a community kitchen. He also receives assistance with his groceries.
Charles meets with his counsellor Norah every week to discuss how he is doing, but also to advance his case. “Yesterday, a lady from Veterans Affairs Canada contacted me to discuss your situation” she said.
In fact, several organizations work together to support veterans. In his case, it will surely be a grant to help him meet his needs.
This is good news for Charles, who is looking forward to the future in a more positive way. The next step? Independent housing where Norah will visit him once a month to make sure everything is going well.
We wish him all the best for the future!
*His name has been changed to preserve his anonymity.