Whoever said ‘addicts are convicts’ will be in for a surprise, as 2009’s CNN Hero was not just a drug addict but an army veteran. Roy Foster once served the US Army in Vietnam.
During his service and time away from main land, Roy, was faced with challenges in the battlefield. Lonely and homesick, he was allured into the fantasy of getting into a nicer place through drugs. By the time his service has ended, Roy faced a new challenge, his battle against drug addiction.
Hitting rock bottom, he picked himself up and faced the world bravely. As Roy knew first hand how fortunate he was to have beaten the unlikely odds of turning his life around after hitting the lowest low, it was his dream to one day ‘pay it forward’ to all those veteran brothers fighting to conquer substance abuse, and to help restore a sense of dignity and purpose in their lives.
With kindness and compassion in his heart, and a firm yet gentle hand, he seeks out as many homeless vets as possible leading them to safe haven at Stand Down House; which opened its doors in 2000 through the successful efforts of Faith, Hope, Love, Charity, Inc. a nonprofit organization which Roy founded in 1994 with fellow veteran partner, the late Donald Reed. Stand Down House provides clean, comfortable living quarters, daily meals, social services counseling, life skills training, individual addiction and recovery treatment plans, 12-step meetings, a staff psychologist, transportation to VA medical facilities, computer training, work programs, guidance counseling for continued education programs, and a safe, structured environment that encourages gradual return to independent living.
"For our heroes to be living in these conditions, it's totally unacceptable," said Foster.
“One of the most important components of healing that vets at Stand Down House experience is bonding with one and other and sharing a common past of military service. Many who have gone on to lead successful and fulfilling lives come back to volunteer their time and share that special bond to keep each other on track.” said Roy Foster. He also stated that in 2008 they reviewed their overall success rate and 93 percent of their eligible residents were said to have found work, while 84 percent of those who completed the program had gone on to lead successful, independent lives.
Although Stand Down House can boast success, Roy Foster knows there is a lot of work to do with the next generation of warriors coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and he remains committed to taking on this new generation of veteran’s issues. One of the many projects he and his staff are involved with is the creation of a nationwide veteran’s café, named the Ease Cyber Café – a combination coffee shop, lunch counter, and casual gathering place where veterans of all wars can network, surf the internet, and share a common bond. The very first café opened in Lake Worth, Florida in the month of June, and Roy has plans of taking the concept nationwide. All proceeds benefit veteran’s organizations.
A true brother InService, today, Roy still lives his day to day by making his rounds along dark alleys and possible areas where his fellow brothers might be residing uncomfortably. With his grace he continues to brighten their future. Helping them get up once more and take on their lives like they used to.