11 News Special Report: Homeward Bound, The Journey Home

"I was tired of being who I was, and wanted to get more out of life, and have a chance to get something done for myself,” said George Rhoads, a one-time homeless veteran who is getting help from The Phoenix Project. Those thoughts helped lead Rhoads into The Phoenix Project, a Homeward Bound program that helps military veterans get their lives back on track.

George was in the United States Army in 1974, when he was honorably discharged for medical reasons. After that he was living in Seattle, working in a warehouse for a large company, when things started to fall apart. Several years of drug and alcohol abuse followed, ”I was a workaholic in Washington working 75 hours a week, dealing drugs. I made some money, but it's all in my lungs. I did a lot of freebasing cocaine”.

He eventually ended up in the Grand Valley and back on drugs and alcohol. At one point he was living in his car and realized it was time to turn things around. ”Right now, I made a decision to change my direction and get straight and sober, on my feet,” said Rhoads.

Following a stay at the Grand Junction Community Homeless Shelter, he entered The Phoenix Project and was was placed in a V.A. program to get his life turned back around. He has now been straight and sober for ten months. Ryan Stringfellow is his case manager, ”It's a great thing. He graduated from the program at the V.A., and he's excited about that. He wants to move forward and help young people beat alcohol and drug addiction.”

George stays in one of 8 apartments in Grand Junction through The Phoenix Project, a branch of the Grand Junction Community Homeless Shelter. The units are for veterans to turn their lives around.

Rhoads will start taking college courses at Mesa State College next month to try and achieve his goal of helping others to not go down the same track he did. ”It's all worth it to come forward and get your life straightened out, get the help you need, get on your feet, and start looking at life at the other side,” replies Rhoads, when asked about his future plans.

This is part one of a series of 11 News Colorado Special Reports, Homeward Bound: The Journey Home. Wednesday, you will meet a couple who has been getting help from the Grand Junction Community Homeless Shelter as they look to move on in life by working hard to achieve their goals.

That's 5:30 and 10:00 on 11 News Colorado.
by: Rick Thurtle

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