Formerly homeless Army Veteran finds sobriety and self-worth through music
Bill Hairston never imagined he would ever be living on the streets. Not even for one night. But that one night turned into one month, then one year and so on. Hairston found he had a difficult time transitioning the skills he attained though military service to a civilian work life.
“Once I was discharged from the Army, I went from being a soldier to a homeless Veteran within a matter of two years — drug and alcohol addiction soon followed,” he said.
After 10 years of living on the streets, Hairston reached out to VA for help. An alcohol treatment program enabled him to recognize his self-worth, and counseling and therapy helped him overcome the desire to drink.
“Being homeless, you kind of lose touch. My music has given me the opportunity to regain that touch, along with the assistance from VA,” he said.
“I’ve been playing the guitar for more than 35 years – music is my therapy,” Hairston said.
He is now living the life he always dreamed about. He leads an all-Veteran band called the Bill Hairston Project, which opened this year’s Music in the Park mini-concert series on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in recognition of Military Appreciation Month. Hairston also received a Bachelor of Science degree along the way and is currently serving other Veterans, working as a lead addiction therapist with the substance abuse recovery program at the DC VA Medical Center.
You can help Veterans connect with the resources they need.
Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless can call or visit their local VA Medical Center or Community Resource and Referral Center where VA staff are ready to help.
Veterans and their families may also call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to access VA services.
Explore va.gov/homeless to learn about VA programs for Veterans who are homeless and share that information with others.