Before joining the Navy, Malcolm Harvey had never traveled more than a few hours away from his hometown. A Pasadena native, he enlisted after the Iranian hostage crisis prompted his family to relocate.
I had never been on a ship before, he continued, so there was something to consider. Swimming was a skill I had to acquire at boot camp. Harvey was a sonar technician who served in the military during the Cold War. They educated me on how to categorize and look for Soviet submarines.
During his 12-year military career, Harvey was deployed twice. He was later discharged with a bad record. Witnessing the death of his best friend on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier left him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though he didn’t recognize it at the time.
Initially, he didn’t notice any changes, but as time passed, he noticed a shift in his behavior. “In other words, I wasn’t turning up to work. A constant state of rage consumed me. That’s when I started to withdraw.” He overstayed his welcome with his relatives at home and ended up on Skid Row, where he remained for years until a fellow veteran told him about U.S. Vets.
Harvey remarked that “homelessness” was only part of the problem. “It was due to legal issues. There were problems in my household. Things were going on in my life, but U.S. Veterans helped me work through them one by one.” U.S. Veterans’ executive director Robert Stohr said, “We can help you find a career path if you need mental health support if you’re newly housed and you need care and support if you want to be in a training program.” The organization was founded in the Los Angeles area.
According to Stohr
The organization’s founders “decided to start with one site in Inglewood and see if they could house five veterans.” According to Stohr, the company is now worth $90 million and has 32 locations in 11 different states.
The experience encouraged Harvey to pursue a graduate degree in social work. And now he’s back where he started: at Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles, helping other veterans get hired through U.S. Veterans. “I have veterans that have a high school diploma, Ph.D., doctorate,” Harvey said. “I’m currently trying to find a position for a J.D.-holding veteran.”
Harvey is appreciative to U.S. Vets for providing him with the opportunity to find new careers for 23 veterans over the past year. Now I know that everything that has happened to me has led me here for a reason and a purpose.
Harvey claims that he was written off because of his PTSD, but he was accepted into community college and now aspires to earn a doctorate in education. I want to help other people have the same epiphany I had in community college, so I plan to return to teaching. And Harvey hopes to reassure his fellow veterans that there is a way forward if they have access to the proper tools.