Success Story: SOLOMON

Solomon-success story

“The animals rely on me to do my job well.”

But there was a lot that Solomon still didn’t understand about himself, starting with why he was doing drugs in the first place, knowing they were slowly killing him. This question tormented him but it would ultimately lead him to seek help, and eventually, to find recovery. His journey started at Coatesville VA Medical Center, Coatesville, PA, where he spent 39 days attending drug classes. But the “why” question was never answered for him and he soon took to the streets, living in his car, eventually homeless and hopeless. In 1998, at the urging of a friend, he returned to Coatesville VA Medical Center where he was diagnosed with Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and, for the first time, accepted that how he was living wasn’t normal. But his battle raged on and it wasn’t until many years later — when his health was deteriorating, his legs hurting so badly that he could hardly walk, and his drug habit spiraling out of control — that Solomon found his salvation at the aptly named, Independence Hall, as a resident of the Fresh Start Program.
The Fresh Start Program for veterans includes transitional housing and supportive service programs located on the campus of the Coatesville VA Medical Center and in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. Combined, these programs serve approximately 430 veterans annually.
In the 6-months he lived there, Solomon received the counseling that gave him the answer to why he was so addicted to drugs: “It was guilt,” he discovered. “Guilt for not being the person I was raised to be. I was ashamed of the person I had become.”

A highlight of Solomon’s day was stopping by the office of Independence Hall Director, Jodi Savits, who challenged him to answer these questions: “What do I get up to do every day?” “What gives me purpose?” Solomon now has all his answers. He has left the VA Medical Center to live in his family home to take care of his aging mother. And Jodi introduced Solomon to the therapeutic riding program, a partnership between Thorncroft Equestrian Center and the Fresh Start Foundation, specifically for Veterans.

“Now I get up at 5 every morning, go to Coatesville Hospital for therapy, attend Church on Sundays, and every Friday I look forward to driving from Delaware to go to Thorncroft in Malvern. I don’t ride the horses but I clean stalls and really do anything they ask me to do. I love it! I’m motivated because I feel like the animals rely on me to do my job well. Thorncroft is my topping of the week!”