Favorite

Word & Image: Jeff Talley, 51 

Homeless Veteran

click to enlarge news09_talley_200.jpg

Fifty bucks goes a long way out here. I can make fifty bucks last a month. Life is a little easier out here these days because people are seeing me on the street and they are thinking I might end up like that man one day. Sometimes you get hassled and people yell, “Get a job!” I don't let it bother me because Jesus gives me hope every day. I wake up and say, “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the warm blood running through my veins.”

I have been in and out of the psych ward at the [Veterans Affairs] hospital. Finally the doctor told me this isn't a motel, you gotta make a decision. I caught the tail end of Vietnam, April or May 1975. The fall of Saigon. I was on the USS America. We were throwing new helicopters overboard to make room for the evacuation of the embassy people. I grew straight up as a country boy in Chesterfield — fishing, hunting, camping. My daddy still lives there. He is 83 years old and he'd still whip my tail. He's tough. I wouldn't mess with him. He's been such a loving man. You couldn't ask for a better man. I remember when I was little, when he would come home from work and us kids would run across the yard to greet him.

After the Navy, I don't know what went wrong. I was married for 23 years and been divorced for 10. I lived for a while in an abandoned house in Dinwiddie County until it was time to move on. When I came to Richmond for VA treatments I stayed in a ditch near the intersection of Route 1 and Parham. I was there for two and a half years. I weigh 150 or so now [but back then] I was down to 117 and had a beard down to my waist.

One day after a night of drinking I woke up and didn't recognize where I was. That's when I heard the low audible voice. That's God. He said go to the sound. I ended up near St. Joseph's Villa. I found a pay phone and called 911. The operator said help is coming. The cop put me in the front seat of the car. I hadn't had a bath in a month. He took me to Richmond Outreach Center in Midlothian. I had been drinking every day for two and a half years and he saved my life. Now I am a straight-up God-fearing man. I know God is coming. The Bible says like a thief in the night. I just hope he gets here soon.

Favorite

Latest in News and Features

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Preaching for Peace

    Preaching for Peace

    As gun violence plagues the city, the Rev. Donte McCutchen seeks solutions.
    • Jun 15, 2021
  • Waive That Flag

    Waive That Flag

    A VCU teacher has students redesign Virginia flags to “reckon with dead symbols.”
    • Jun 8, 2021
  • Power to the People

    Power to the People

    A new documentary about the rise and fall of the Confederate monuments offers a sweeping history of resistance.
    • Jun 8, 2021
  • How to Get Back into Summer

    How to Get Back into Summer

    The sun is out, masks are down, normal is overrated. Here are five ideas to help reignite that summer feeling.
    • Jun 1, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation