We STILL Want You
(January 9, 2011)
|ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. (1/5/2011 - AFNS) -- It was
1981 when 17-year-old Steven Comstock joined the Marine
Corps, eager to receive training that would lead him down
the path of honor, courage and commitment.|
Twenty-nine years later, on Dec. 23, Mr.
Comstock received a different kind of gift:
clothing donated by Operation H.U.G.S.S. (Hats,
Undergarments, Gloves, Socks and Scarves), a
program where Ellsworth Air Force Base Airmen
donated items to 43 homeless veterans in Rapid
"This is for veterans, the
people who came before us," said Master Sgt.
David Wells, the 28th Munitions Squadron first
sergeant and founder of Operation H.U.G.S.S.
"They have served their country and done their
time. This is our chance to give something back
For five years, Operation
H.U.G.S.S. has partnered with the Cornerstone
Rescue Mission of Rapid City, S.D. to provide
homeless veterans with warm clothing to last
throughout the cold winter season. Veterans,
like Mr. Comstock, who have fallen on hard
times, are able to find
Steven Comstock, a homeless veteran, lives at the Cornerstone Rescue Mission in Rapid City S.D., while trying to get back on his feet. The mission provides homeless people with a place to sleep, warm meals and a chance to get their lives back in order. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli)
safety, shelter and a chance to regain control
of their lives with Cornerstone.
"I heard about Cornerstone through word of mouth," he said.
"I came by and have received a great deal of support to help
me get back on my feet."|
After his time in the
military, Mr. Comstock spent 25 years as an electrician,
before falling on hard times. He said his life was in a
downward spiral well before he became homeless.
started drinking real hard and lost my job," he said.
"Sometimes you wake up sooner rather than later. It just
took me a little bit longer to realize what I was doing.
But, you eventually just come to a point where you realize
life goes on."
Mr. Comstock said the hardest part has
been dealing with the frustration of going from being a
military veteran and commercial electrician to being
homeless. However, he views the support he receives from the
Cornerstone Rescue Mission and programs like Operation
H.U.G.S.S. as chances to get back on his feet.
of veterans are embarrassed about coming in here," he said.
"I know I was. I think that's why a lot of them won't reach
out and take a helping hand when it's offered."
Comstock said that while Operation H.U.G.S.S. has been a
generous partner during the holidays, other people tend to
prejudge the homeless.
"People sometimes look down on
you like you're a failure," he said. "They only see
'resident of Cornerstone Rescue Mission' on the job
application. They don't see me."
Mr. Comstock said he
and lot of other homeless veterans are in this situation
because they were unable to trust their friends and family
enough to talk about the problems they were having.
"A lot of people don't understand the things we have gone
through," he said. "The only person who might understand is
the guy who was standing next to you when it happened. No
matter what you look like on the outside, it's what is on
the inside that has changed."
Looking back on his
time with the military, Mr. Comstock said he built a lot of
walls around himself based on his experiences.
been carrying a lot of stuff from my time in the service,"
he said. "It makes it hard to trust people. If I could go
back, I would tell myself not to keep everything bottled up
inside. But, I wouldn't take away any of my time with the
military, even if I could go back and change things. There's
a camaraderie there that people who haven't suffered through
it, or experienced it, can ever understand."
Master Sgt. Jim Goodrich, a former first sergeant and the
coordinator for the Cornerstone Rescue Mission veteran
outreach program, said Mr. Comstock's story is shared by
many of the 43 veterans currently living at Cornerstone.
"People make odd assumptions about homeless veterans,"
he said. "They aren't a bunch of drunks and derelicts lying
around. These are very good men, who, for one reason or
another, have run into hard times. It's a challenge to
encourage and support them in getting back on their feet,
but it's a fight we are determined to win."
By USAF Sr. Airman Jarad A. Denton|
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News
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