Goodwill’s SSVF: Franklin’s Story

Navy veteran. Cancer survivor. Sexual trauma survivor. Homeless veteran.

All of these words identify life experiences for Franklin, but they do not define him. What words best define Franklin are fighter and survivor.

Franklin suffered frequent abuse as a child. Abuse continued when he joined the Navy, where he suffered military sexual trauma that led to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His service in Vietnam, like many other men and women, changed Franklin. When he came home, he turned to alcohol and heroine to numb the pain and memories. Over the course of years, Franklin overdosed many times. One overdose put him into a coma for a month. For many years, he was just fighting to stay alive until the next day.

Franklin has a traumatic brain injury and several mental health diagnoses that limit his ability to interact with large groups of people. He has led a fairly solitary life, save the companionship of Onyx, his service dog.

As Franklin battled his private enemies with drugs and alcohol, he also was diagnosed with cancer, which almost took his life. But, Franklin will proudly tell you he won that battle. He is a cancer survivor.

Franklin moved to Spokane because he was fleeing an abusive relationship. He did not know anyone, so he stayed at House of Charity. Catholic Charities referred Franklin to Goodwill’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. He needed housing, medical care, mental health services, and financial help. SSVF was able to help Franklin access all the help he needed. While SSVF helped Franklin look for permanent housing, they set him up in transitional housing, and he soon found a permanent place to live. With the help of his SSVF case manager, Franklin’s health stabilized through medical and mental health services with the VA Medical Center.

Goodwill staff helped Franklin apply to have his service connected disability pay increased. His application was approved. The increase in income has allowed Franklin to take over the lease on his apartment and become fully independent. With his health and housing stable, Franklin has been able to do more than just survive. He is thriving, and making friends, along with his service dog, Onyx.

“Through this journey, I have never given up or lost hope,” Franklin says. He attributes his success to his resiliency and the help he has received from agencies like Goodwill.

Does this sound like someone you know? Contact Goodwill Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) in Washington or Idaho. Call (509) 828-2449 and ask for help.