Client Testimonial: Finding What was Lost

Donnie L. speaks at the Joseph House New Horizons groundbreaking ceremony.

“I was born and raised in Covington, Kentucky, went to school in Covington and graduated from Holmes High School.  I grew up with my mother, two sisters and grandmother. I had no father, so I was pretty much the man of the house until my mom remarried when I was 13. Her husband, the only father I ever knew, adopted me and my sisters. I changed my last name to his. It was tough at first, but I learned to love him for all he did for our family and still does at 92 years of age.

I love sports, wanted to go to college and play football. That didn’t happen. I got discouraged and began drinking and smoking marijuana. Come fall, I had enough and wanted to do something in my life, so I joined the U.S. Army. I got straight, the Army way – excelled in ranks when I got overseas but returned to my old habits of drinking and drugs while guarding the Czech Republic border in Germany. I got away from there by reenlisting and going to Ft. Hood, Texas. Things were fine there until drinking and drugs took over again. When the service was over, I came home and worked many jobs over the years. I pretty much lost all because of my addiction.

I had a wonderful daughter from my first marriage, but the marriage didn’t work, and I returned to bad habits. I married again and my second wife passed away at a young age. I went to Texas, got into trouble, did time and returned to doing good for a while, but the same old habits came back. I bounced around to relatives’ and friends’ couches for four years and was working on and off during that time. I got into a car wreck, messed up my hip and gave up.

I talked to my niece about getting it together and she invited me to come stay with her. I lived in her basement and helped around the property and got her kids on the bus. My niece went online and found a place in Cincinnati called Joseph House – a treatment center for homeless vets trying to recover from alcoholism and addiction. I decided, “what the heck.” I’ve never talked much about my military career. I never looked back for 40 years. My niece called, got me in and I came to Joseph House. My life and goals all changed from the first week I was there. 

I went into inpatient where I participated in classes every day including 90 days of AA & NA meetings. I phased up to the Intensive Outpatient Program where I go to smaller group classes on topics ranging from relapse prevention to anger management to finding new friends and more. I even went to equine therapy where you bond and heal with horses through the Warriors in Step with Horses Program. Joseph House even took a group of us to Red River gorge in Kentucky for a weekend AA retreat. They have also taken us on fishing trips, bowling, had cookouts and parties for us to learn how to have fun while sober.  

As Joseph House prepares to relocate to a new facility in Camp Washington, the organization can offer recovery to help many more vets recover what they have lost and what me and so many before me have found.”

-Donnie L., U.S. Army veteran