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Veteran Credits Hines VA for Saving his Life
Marine Veteran Garry Hayes is smiling today. His life is drastically different than a year ago – when he made final plans to kill himself. “I thought maybe they’ll get the message then, and I was going to name everyone who wronged me on my way out,” said Hayes.
The former Lance Cpl. enlisted in the reserves in 1998. In 1999, Hayes was beaten and sexually assaulted by another man while on duty. “There was no #MeToo movement back then. It’s not an easy thing for a man to admit to,” said Hayes. The facts support him. It’s estimated that one in four women report Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Only one in 100 men report MST incidents.
In 2000, Hayes was diagnosed with HIV during a routine medical screening. He was honorably discharged from the military. To make matters worse he was also suffering from Hepatitis C.
It wasn’t long before his life was out of control. Hayes turned to alcohol and chose to ignore his medical condition until last year when he finally ran out of options. He had no home, no treatment plan and no hope.
His luck changed after seeking help at Hines VA. Hayes credits the staff here for saving his life.
“The people here embraced me and guided me through the dark times,” said Hayes. The VA homeless team found him a place to live, the medical staff got him into treatment, and the mental health team provided immediate care. Hayes survived without treatment for 18 years because he has a slow progression form of HIV.
According to Nurse Practitioner Jonessa Farano, HIV/PrEP coordinator at Hines VA, “I knew right away he needed help. He needed to know that we care about him,” said Farano.
She got him involved with Positive Attitude Veterans (PAV), which is an educational support group that meets at Hines twice a month. “This group really cares about each other, and I think he liked that,” said Farano.
Suicide is a complex issue. Feeling connected to others and obtaining access to mental health care is crucial for those contemplating suicide. Hines VA has given Hayes a new lease on life. “I feel like the staff here saved me. I’m 100 percent sure of that.”
If you believe a Veteran in your life may be contemplating suicide, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online. Qualified and compassionate VA responders are on call 24/7/365 to provide guidance on how to connect Veterans with support and help keep them from harm.
Events & Classes
Conquering Binge Eating, Part 3
Sep 19, 2018 8:00 AM - 9:30 AM (CST)
Hines, Building 1, Room E335
Healthy Living Class
Sep 19, 2018 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM (CST)
Hines, Building 200, Basement, Room D009B (Diabetes Education Room)
Kankakee County Outreach Event
Sep 19, 2018 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM (CST)
Kankakee Community College 100 College Dr Kankakee, IL