Iraqi veteran finds his way out of homelessness and PTSD with the help of culinary training provided by Father Joe’s Villages Culinary Arts Program.

chef chopping vegetable

Stephen arrived at Father Joe’s Villages with PTSD and substance abuse issues. A Marine who served two tours in Iraq, he had recently separated from his wife and lost his children to Child Welfare Services. This was Stephen’s rock bottom.

Our veteran’s team encouraged him to complete many of the job training modules through employment and education services and enroll in Father Joe’s Villages’ Freddie Evarkiou Culinary Arts Program. After completing the intensive 14-week culinary training, Stephen obtained full-time employment as a cook at a popular San Diego restaurant.

“I knew I needed a higher paying job, which is why I decided to check out the culinary arts program. I had no previous culinary experience other than working in a pizza restaurant as a teen. Now I am working in a high-end restaurant with one of the best chefs in San Diego.”

Stephen achieved and maintained sobriety with the help of our addiction treatment program and several mental health groups offered at Father Joe’s Villages, thereby increasing his ability to cope with PTSD. Stephen also cleared up several legal issues through the Homeless Court program that takes place at Father Joe’s Villages’ St. Vincent de Paul Village every other month.

Stephen reestablished contact and visitation with his children through our Family Living Center and spends every other weekend with his children, allowing them all to look forward to a long future together.

Wells Fargo Father Joe’s Villages Employment & Education Services program appreciates the support of Wells Fargo who provides funds for this program.