“This love slammed into the center of me.” Sam remembers the exact moment God grabbed a hold of his heart. He was doing the most ordinary of things
— taking a shower.
“This feeling flooded into me,” Sam remembers. “It felt like being high, like being in love . . . I heard a voice say, ‘I needed to take you away from all those other things you love . . . the drugs, the girls . . . all the distractions . . . I am all you need.’”
At this point, Sam had been battling an addiction to heroin, and was caught up in a brutal cycle of drugs and homelessness that he couldn’t seem to shake.
It All Started with a Devastating Loss
Sam remembers growing up in a loving household as a young child, but that all changed when his mom began using meth. Sam was in high school and recalls how the environment in his house turned into a party atmosphere.
Then came a pivotal moment when, on a Halloween night, his mother took her own life. Sam, still in high school, could not cope with the emotional pain any longer. He tried OxyContin and as he explains, “It made all the pain go away.” And soon, heroin use followed.
Time in the Army
As Sam got deeper into his addiction, he turned to crime to feed his habit. He landed in jail several times.
After one stint he sobered up and realized he needed something more in his life…something that would give him direction and purpose in his life, where he can do something good for a change.
So he decided to join the Army. He trained to become a combat medic and did well. Being in the Army was just as he had hoped. He looks at his years in the military as extremely demanding, but more importantly a season of life when he was living a life that gave him a sense of personal value because he was serving his country.
Then he tore his ACL in an accident and was given Percocet. And just like that, Sam was addicted once again.
The Changing Point
After Sam was discharged from the Army, he was once again lost and addicted. He
eventually became homeless, living in the riverbed. But this time Sam was getting desperate to find a way out, and to find the hope and help he needed to live well as a civilian. He knew he could be sober again like when he was in the Army. He went to AA meetings and joined a church. Then came the wake-up call in the shower.
A Power Greater than Himself
With the help of his church, Sam found Orange County Rescue Mission’s Tustin Veterans Outpost. Recalling his first days here, Sam says, “I loved it. I loved how clean it was here. And all the love and how unashamedly everyone talked about Jesus Christ.” At the Mission, Sam found meaning and purpose in the kitchen. He moved his way up to his current position as assistant to the kitchen managers.
Today, Sam understands how God never gave up on him, even when he gave up on himself. Living at Tustin Veterans Outpost is proof to him of this truth. And now, with the help of Tustin Veterans Outpost veteran staff, and the work he is doing to change his life, he hopes to get his GI Bill back to pursue an education.