Curtis is a four-year Navy veteran that was stationed in Chicago from 1988-1992. He quickly moved up to Recruit Chief Petty Officer and was nominated by his peers and other commanders for the Military Excellence Award. He attended school on Virginia and was then assigned to the USS John Young where he was able to complete his BMR and quickly moved up to E-2 status. While aboard the ship Curtis feels he faced discrimination because despite his hard work and recognition he saw trainees being ranked before him.
Although he enjoyed the Navy and the experience, his morale was greatly affected by the discrimination and he opted for the “early out”. He worked as a prison guard in Atlanta for four years following his service and began working for the railroad in 1997. In 2003 he sustained an injury at work and began the long legal battle with his employer. While trying to recover and medical bills piling up, he lost his home in 2004 and found himself homeless and sleeping in his truck.
He prevailed in his case against his employer and was able to move into an apartment after being homeless for several months. In the next couple of years, he would experience being homeless three more times due to being terminated by his employer, ending a relationship and an incident with a roommate that left him far from relatives and sleeping on the street.
He found his way to the Salvation Army and began searching for employment immediately. He began working at Publix in January of last year and shortly after transitioned into a Homes of Light group home. He was able to acquire a second job and began saving money and with the assistance of HOL was able to move into his own apartment. He secured another job in order to attempt to save money for a vehicle, but because of a scheduling issue lost his second job due to timing and lack of transportation.
He found out about VetCar through Homes of Light and found the resources readily available to him to “be a blessing.” Due to his injury from his days working for the railroad he often had trouble carrying laundry and groceries, especially while using public transportation. Purchasing a vehicle with VetCar has brought not only physical but financial relief as well. He hopes to work for Marta or the railroad again soon, as well as take classes to become more computer literate and complete his Bachelor’s degree.