Retired United States Army Tanker Shawn Doggett works as a maintenance tech at the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training.
He sprays down the huge facility every day to kill coronavirus.
“It’s like being around my peers ,we can talk about old military times," Doggett said.
He’s been sober 19 months now.
He was homeless, addicted to drugs , and disconnected from the people who matter most.
“I’m about to lose everything. I’m not with my family anymore. I’m causing my mom stress. It was like god intervened right away. I got a phone call from my two sisters (they) called me and said they can’t see me like this anymore. They found a place that could help me with my issue, and it was MCVET.”
He sees the men and women who were in his shoes and can teach them how to find a new path.
“You have to surrender. You have to be honest with yourself that you have an issue. Whatever the issue may be, it’s not necessarily drugs, It could be mental it could be PTSD. Whatever your issue is surrender and ask for help and this place will definitely get you the help you need.”
Before the pandemic MCVET could help around 200 veterans at a time. To do all that great work it costs money.
This is a nonprofit and one of the big ways they raise those funds is through their Veteran’s Day MCVET 5 and 10k Race.
Because of Coronavirus they’ve had to move that virtual this year.
“This is the number one fundraiser for us," said MCVET Executive Director Jeffery Kendrick. "The proceeds from that go directly to the operational costs of the facility. Which means money raised is going directly to those veterans that come into the program.”
Those services include personal apartment space, a kitchen, and cabinets for some of the vets.
Vets have access to classes that are now also streamed online where they can learn everything from basic computer skills to coding.
They’ve had to adapt to a Coronavirus world.
They closed their doors for weeks when the pandemic started.
They quickly put a plan in place to reopen their doors by partnering with a nearby hotel to quarantine incoming people until they are cleared to come in.
They have a saying that there is a reason why a veteran becomes homeless.
The first step in the program is figuring out why, and how to fix it.
“We have social workers, case managers, we have operations managers," Kendrick said. "A person can come in with just the clothes on their back.”
The group runs the building like a branch of the military.
“You have to get up, you have chores, you have a job you have to do. You have to listen and you have to follow orders,” said Kendrick.
They want to help more veterans so if you know of any in need connect them to MCVET.
“You see a veteran on the street with that sign “homeless veteran” instead of maybe discarding them or looking away," Kendrick said "Maybe instead of giving them a dollar and hoping that’s enough tell them about us.”
Doggett is a success story who proudly shows off the barriers he’s built for the employees here.
But he’s even more proud of the emotional walls he’s been able to tear down.
“They look at me with so much happiness and so much joy and it’s just a wonderful feeling," Doggett said. "I remember not too long ago I didn’t have that feeling, I didn’t get that look from them.”
The result is our warriors finding their peace.
To learn more or to donate to MCVET click here.