Recently Homeless Veterans Provide Insight Into Opioid Epidemic

Lorain County, Ohio has been especially hard-hit by the opioid epidemic plaguing many of our communities. In 2015 the county saw about 60 overdose deaths, and last year the number more than doubled.

Some of the people battling addiction on the frontlines of the epidemic are people also facing other challenges…veterans.

Tony Ganzer brings some stories from veterans at Valor Home, transitional housing for recently homeless vets.

Video from WVIZ/PBS’s program ‘Ideas,’ aired April 10, 2017.

Find a long radio report with these veterans: 

SWINEHART: “I was in during the Cold War. Even though we were at peacetime, it was still a war. I seen two of my best friends right next to be got blowed up.  And every time it comes around Labor Day and Fourth of July I sit there and think to myself, I’d sit on my porch and sit there, ‘why you take them and not me? Why you let me live the misery to watch two of my best friends get blowed up, and there was nothing I could do about it?’  I mean, it pries on my mind all the time. It’s like, is there a reason?”

Sometimes coping with these challenges is too much to bear.  Haskey Staley says he’s considered suicide, but thinks about God, and finds strength to fight that urge.

Norman Swinehart says he’s tried to end his life more than 20 times.

SWINEHART: “I’ve been to prison, but I’m in prison in myself, for things that I’ve seen, things that’s happened to me. Like I said before, I went into the military and then something happened.  When I went into the military I wasn’t an alcoholic. I wasn’t a drug addict. But after I got in there, my whole life twisted around on me. I overdosed three times in Germany on heroin, trying to kill myself, because of what happened to me. And I’ve been doing it ever since, I’ve been running.  Lately I’ve come to grips and have had six years of sobriety just to come to grips with what is going on with me. And I’ve found…you’ve got to let the past go. Whatever happened back then, it happened. It’s not happening today.”

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