powerful stories of growth from some of our inspiring friends
VEP Story – Rocky Boone
“I call Texas home. I’ve been all over, and I’m going to go all over again.”
Going way back – Well I’m originally from Perryville, Missouri. My dad worked for phone companies when we were young, so we moved around a lot. During most of grade school, we lived in Atlanta, Georgia. After 5th grade, Dad was transferred and we moved again, this time to Ft. Wayne, Indiana where I started junior high. I made it through and finished one year in high school before I left and made the decision to enlist with the U.S. Marine Corps. Boot camp was in San Diego, and after I finished I was sent to Beauford, South Carolina where I spent my tour of duty. This was after the Vietnam War, in terms of war stories, there isn’t too much to talk about. I spent my four years with the Marines and got out. I did spend the time working toward my diploma while I was there, and became high school graduate. My employment during my service was something that I loved. I was a firefighter, and it was a good job. After my four years was up, I had decided wanted to continue as a firefighter. I had moved back to Ft. Wayne to see about a job, but I didn’t have much luck – there were five job openings for firefighters, and I was one of 5,000 that showed up to apply! About a year and a half later, my dad transferred to Texas with work, and that’s how our family finally ended up there. I began work locally selling paint, and after several years found myself with the ability to start my own painting company. In the years during that time I was operating the painting business, I met my ex-wife. We got married, had two kids, and suddenly due to my business partners bad decisions, the painting company fizzled out.
After that, I began attending school for in Texas for HVAC work, and supported our family by doing maintenance work on the apartments we lived in for the next 9 years. Our marriage hit some rough spots, and after a change of scenery when we moved just outside of Denver where we lived for nearly 5 years, we decided to part ways. My life at this point was becoming out of control as I battled drinking, and I ended up calling my parents for help to try and get myself back to Texas. Shortly thereafter, my Dad passed away in my arms of a heart attack. That had a large impact on me, and really got my attention. It took a little while to get myself going in the right direction, and when I finally decided to enter the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation program, I was at the lowest point of my life. I did well there, and ended up working with them for a number of years. Both that organization and more specifically the gentleman I worked for were very instrumental in making the difference I needed in my life at that time. I continued to work with them and moved to the Richmond branch. Things eventually didn’t work out with my position there, and within a few weeks, I found myself homeless in Richmond. I found my way to the Conrad Center, which I found to be an excellent place. There was a gentleman there who was a big part in getting me into the Freedom House, which was extremely helpful in getting me back on my feet.
I found the brochure for the Veterans Employment Program with River City at the VA hospital, and called and spoke with someone in the office who helped to get me enrolled with the program. Since working with these programs, I’ve received assistance in many different areas – assistance that has allowed me to get where I am and to go where I’m headed more quickly than if I was working on my own. People are in great need of programs like this one (VEP), and Freedom House. People need to hear about the difference they make in people’s lives. I’ve received help that I needed, and I’ve also discovered a new direction for my career, one I’ve already begun to take large steps toward achieving. I’m going to drive trucks, and I’ve just recently returned from a trip to Ft. Wayne, IN where I passed the school and licensure exam for my CDL (Commercial Driver’s License.) Now I’m going to be “On the Road Again”! It was ironic because I moved from Ft. Wayne in 1979 where I had originally received my driver’s license, and here I was going back. I’ll be driving for PAM, and this coming Monday, I’ll be headed to Arkansas to start with them.
Any time things have become bad in my life, it’s because I’ve taken my eyes away from God. It’s been the continuous prayers of people like my mother, who never stopped praying; people like my former boss, who was my Pastor – a man who I will keep up with for years to come. He never let me get away and was always there and prayed for me. I know that God has to be first, everything else comes after Him. My faith in God is what has allowed me to start making the right choices and to find the right path.