LCCC STUDENT AND VETERAN CONQUERS HOMELESSNESS


Jeff Schuman reports, jschuman@k2tv.com


An Army veteran and LCCC student survived homelessness and is now paying it forward.


"Life's a joruney and you never know where it's going to take you," Army veteran Michael Santana said.

For eight years, Michael Santana served in the U.S. Army as a communications specialist.

"To serve the greatest nation on Earth, I don't think it gets any better."

Upon completing his services in 2000, Michael returned home to South Dakota. He attempted to go to school and work, but depression and the difficult transition to civilian life soon took over.

"Became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and it was a struggle. Found myself homeless at one point."

For three years we wandered the streets, struggling to survive.

"You never sleep when you're homeless," Santana said.

Alcohol and drugs continued to be a part of Michael's life and suicidal thoughts began. But it was a sign saying 'Are you a veteran in crisis' that forever changed his life.

"When I came to the suicide crisis, that vision of that poster kept going and coming into my mind. I found the number, I picked up the phone, I called the VA and I think the lady on the other end was an angel."

Michael has been off of the streets for a year and now attends L-C-C-C. And what he is most proud of is starting Wyoming's first Student Veterans Association which helps transitioning veterans with scholarships, internships and employment opportunities.

"I would like to come back in 20 years or so after all of this and be able to see that the SVA chapter is still alive, it's still thriving at L-C-C-C."

Michael says the last year has been a whirlwind and he owes it all to the VA.

"They saved my life, they really did...that's the only way I can say it."

To find out more about Student Veterans of America, follow the link below and click on chapters to locate Wyoming's sole chapter in Cheyenne.

http://www.studentveterans.org/