Tim Dewald, 43, spent eight years living on the streets up and down the West Coast after returning from the Gulf War in 1992. Dewald suffered a severe injury to his shoulder while serving in the Army, which sent him to a rehabilitation clinic in San Diego.
While undergoing treatment for his shoulder, Dewald became addicted to pain medication. He was cut off from painkillers and turned to the streets to find similar drugs.
Five years ago, Dewald successfully moved from a transitional housing program to independent living. The program, called Corps of Recovery Discovery, provides housing and services to integrate homeless veterans into a community. At full capacity, the Walla Walla program can find homes for 44 veterans.
In 2008, Dewald attended a summit in D.C. aimed at ending homelessness among veterans in five years. Dewald, along with Mike Brown, assistant program manager for CORD, and Chris Oliver and Ron Opsel from the Walla Walla Veterans Administration, met with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and the office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray to request more housing vouchers.
The Veterans Affairs office estimates that there are 107,000 homeless veterans on any given night, about one-third of the adult homeless population.
Dewald is a second-year student at Walla Walla Community College. He plans to earn his master’s degree in social work at Walla Walla University, after which he hopes to work with homeless outreach at the Walla Walla VA.
For more information about the CORD program and its history, see CORD’s official blog by Rick, the first program manager for CORD.