U.S. Army Veteran David Williams and Andrae Bailey, CEO of Central Florida Commission
In recent years the population of homeless veterans in the tri-county area of Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties has decreased by 59%, yet about 300 veterans remain on the streets. Today, because of a coordinated community effort veterans like David Williams are no longer living on the streets and have been given a second chance. On August 6, David received his permanent voucher and will never be homeless again,” explained Andrae Bailey, CEO, Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.
David Williams, U.S. Army Veteran (1981-1985) is one of the fortunate individuals who has benefited from the VA’s initiatives in conjunction with the support of local non-profits. Through our relationship with the Commission we had the chance to meet Mr. Williams and to hear his personal story.
“I spent 17 years, 7 months and 9 days in the woods…and being homeless for that amount of time, mentally, physically and emotionally drains a person,” Williams explained in a calm and serious tone. “I spent a lot of time avoiding people because…I was diagnosed with mental illness, but now I talk openly about it because medication works. Today I have dreams, I have hopes, I have goals. And most of my aspirations are to give back to my community. Just like I defended my country, I want to defend the community too. So that’s why I enrolled in the service program, to give back…to be that role model and citizen that I knew I could be,” he concluded with a smile on his face.
Going from the woods, to a concrete floor, to an apartment with mental health support services is a dream come true for David. This gives inspiration and validation that we are supporting a worthy community initiative. And as we continue to do our part in solving this crisis by supporting the efforts of keeping individuals off the street and placing them in permanent supportive housing, we will help others like David that just need a second chance.