SPOKANE, Wash.—The home Walter Martin moved into in the Inland Northwest means a lot to him.
Martin is a Veteran from Chicago who said he’s grown to love the Spokane area.
“Growing up in Chicago, big city, crowded, coming out here to the country was so nice. You could stretch out. And the water was so beautiful...and the girls. I mean, there were just so many things to entice you,” said Martin.
Martin did not have a lot of stuff to move in, but he does have an American flag at the front door of his new home, and that means a lot to him.
“I wanted to serve my country, and I did have sort of a rage issue. So i figured I would be able to fight. God had different plans, I didn’t get to do half the stuff I wanted. But I did get to meet some great people. When Desert Storm kicked off I got a chance to be support, and support was good,” said Martin.
Martin said he looked back on his time in the army fondly. He said he especially hold on to the lifelong friendships. Martin said if he could enlist again, he would.
For Martin, life after serving was tough. He said the transition back into civilization was hard to make. He said he turned to alcohol and became homeless.
“It’s really hard for veterans to adjust to this stuff. Especially when you go to counseling, or you don’t get counseling, and people just judge you or just blow you off,” said Martin.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans identified several factors that put the veteran population at risk, including substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Martin credited the Spokane community for helping him regain direction in his life. He said it was thanks to the many organizations in Spokane that connected veterans with the services they need.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported there were more than 39,000 homeless U.S. veterans in 2016.
Martin said he is now sober, working and living in a transitional house that is helping him get back on his own two feet. He said he has his sights set on helping other veterans in his future.