Program helps veterans get fresh, sober start on life

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INDIANAPOLIS (March 13, 2015) - Three local veterans are graduating from a special 12-step program meant to get them sober and get their lives back on track.

“It takes commitment, patience and a lot of humility, and (these) guys are a testimony to all three of those qualities,” said Curtis Williamson, who helps run the program at HVAF of Indiana.

For one local veteran, it's a struggle he's been dealing with for 30 years.

“I was a mess,” said Army veteran Whitney Hamilton. “I started off with beer, then liquor, then marijuana, then I went to cocaine… I started trying to get clean and sober since 1985 but I was rebellious. I thought I knew it all I didn’t want to take any suggestions.”

But then he came here to take part in HVAF’s substance abuse program, called R.E.S.T.

“It stands for residential employment substance abuse treatment, and it’s an intensive 12 step recovery program,” said HVAF’s Debra Des Vignes. “They’re paired up with another veteran. They sleep here, they eat here, they’re provided housing and food.”

“You have to do some work,” said Hamilton. “There’s no wand or nothing that’s going to be waved over you and things are going to be alright. You’ve got to do some work, you got to want it.”

Friday he graduated from that program, with his ex-wife and friend Cynthia there to see it happen.

“I was just overwhelmed with joy,” she said. “It’s been a long journey for Whitney and I’ve seen his struggle and today is definitely the highest point of his life. I’m very very proud of him.”

“(It’s the) first time I really accomplished something in my life that I’m really proud of,” said Hamilton. “My final goal was to be clean and sober and that’s the way I plan to stay the rest of my life.”

You can read more about the program and other services provided by the organization on HVAF of Indiana’s web site.

Hoosier Heroes is an Emmy Award-winning segment that focuses on Indiana veterans. View other Hoosier Heroes stories here.