STARS AND STRIPES
By NIKKI WENTLING
Published: October 21, 2016
“I’ve been homeless; I’ve been hungry; I’ve used drugs. I’m surprised I’m even still here,” Towery said. “It’s all part of the makeup of who I am as a person now, and I’m the kind of person who doesn’t cut and run when a responsibility is there.”
Navy veteran Glenn Towery, 64, served in the Vietnam War from 1971 to 1972 on the USS Rupertus before he was medically evacuated. Towery has faced homelessness and drug use, and he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2008. He recently started a nonprofit in an attempt to prevent servicemember and veteran suicide. Courtesy of Glenn ToweryA crumpled-up brown paper bag has a permanent place at the bottom of Glenn Towery’s briefcase.
It’s a reminder of a difficult but “remarkable” odyssey, Towery said, that started after his return from the Vietnam War in 1972.
Towery, feeling dizzy, sought help at a Department of Veterans Affairs emergency room in 1975, and a doctor handed him a paper bag to breathe into.
“He said, ‘Mr. Towery, are you aware that you have been hyperventilating?’” Towery, now 64, told Stars and Stripes in a recent interview. “I started understanding. That was the first indication that something was wrong.”
In the decades since, he became homeless and worked his way off the streets. Developed a crack cocaine addiction and walked away from it. Tried and failed at college, but tried again and earned a degree.
With help, Towery has worked through a series of hardships, including disability and bouts of PTSD. Now, he’s trying to assist veterans who are considering suicide — something he knows firsthand.
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