Anthony Brown - A Very New Experience - Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center
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Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center

 

Anthony Brown - A Very New Experience

Anthony Brown, in a white cap and black jacket, stares into the camera, squinting slightly from the sun. Behind him is a sign that reads Coatesville Medical Center, building 10, Fresh Start Foundation, Veterans Program.

Anthony Brown, a 61-year-old double amputee-Veteran, awaits his departure to live out in the community after two years of care and treatment at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. Image taken November 15, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Anthony Brown, a 61-year-old double amputee-Veteran, prepares for his departure to live out in the community after two years of care and treatment at the Coatesville VA Medical Center.

Brown arrived at Coatesville in early 2018 to begin treatment and recovery after losing both of his feet to frostbite while he was homeless and living in an abandoned house during December of 2017.

In the nearly two years since his surgery, at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Delaware County, CVAMC has overseen Brown's recovery from surgery and the physical therapy necessary for him to achieve his optimum level of health.

"When I first came [here], I never thought I would be at this stage in my life, but I utilize all the staff and everybody is my support system," said Brown. "And the VA has really helped me. I thank God for the VA."

"It hasn't been just one person. It's a team effort and a lot of us who come here, we need the help," said Brown. "My doctor helped me physically but being homeless for so long I needed the emotional and the psychological support."

The treatment teams assigned to work with Brown focused on his glaucoma, Hepatitis C, to include counseling for his alcohol and substance abuse, his depression, and the mental health issues that contributed to his homelessness.

In September 2018, Brown entered the Fresh Start Program, a non-VA transitional residential Grant and Per Diem Program, where he was introduced to Beth Fuller, a social work-case manager for Fresh Start.

"We are here to provide transitional housing and case management services to homeless Veterans," explains Fuller. "Most of the men who live here have some sort of mental health or substance abuse and medical issues."

The Grant and Per Diem Programs help homeless Veterans achieve residential stability and to increase their living skills and income.

Brown describes where he started at, "When I came here I had no birth certificate, no state ID, no social security card… I had nothing. I needed things from the social security office, things like financial statements. Beth showed me how to get myself into a position to get housing."

Fuller has been guiding Brown through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing's process to find and sustain permanent housing through rental assistance vouchers and connected him with VA's supportive services.

"Anthony has been an extremely excellent advocate for himself," said Fuller. "He advocated to get himself a motorized scooter, then he went and talked to the VA vocational rehabilitation specialists of the Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program."

Acceptance into the CWT program, required Brown to realize and rely on his own personal strengths, so that he could build work experience and to earn money that he could later use for housing.

"I have a place to go, I have furniture, I have all my IDs and I've been networking," said Brown. "I never signed a lease before in my life, so this is a very new experience for me."

Encouraged by the support he has received from CVAMC and Fresh Start, Brown is considering going back to school and becoming a peer support counselor, so that he can give back, helping other homeless Veterans suffering from mental and physical illnesses.

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