Matthew and Ruckus - RISE VA program
Matthew is a participant in the RISE VA permanent supportive housing program for veterans. since July 2019. Matt has always had a great love for animals and his VA mental health team recommended he obtain an emotional support animal to help with his ongoing treatment. CaringWorks worked with the landlord on Matt’s behalf to gain approval to have a puppy. Through a close military friend, Matt was connected with an organization, Hank and Eli’s in Corpus Christi, Texas that works specifically with vets to find dogs that are a good fit. Matt wished to have a younger dog that he could raise and train on his own (with assistance from the organization). Matt was connected with them and in late July he received a phone call that a 5-month-old boxer pup, Ruckus, had been identified as a good match. He immediately fell in love with Ruckus. Hank and Eli’s will provide follow up assistance as well as paid veterinary check-ups and any emergency care if needed. Matt and Ruckus are currently enjoying life together In Stone Mtn. as participants in the CaringWorks RISE VA program.

Matt’s story is a familiar one with many VETS. After high school he joined the military and was a U.S. Army paratrooper and served on active duty from 1983-1988. Matt was involved in U.S. military operations in both Grenada and Panama. He served a total of 20 years in the National Guard including his active-duty status. While in the Army National Guard, Matt attended the University of West GA. and received a BA and M.A in psychology.

During this time, Matt began to experience severe symptoms of depression and anxiety and was diagnosed with PTSD as the result of both military combat experiences and childhood trauma.

After moving back to the Atlanta area in 2017, Matt continued to experience severe MH issues and eventually became homeless. Matt was treated at the Atlanta VAMC and entered into their domiciliary program. He became a participant in the RISE VA permanent supportive housing program in 2019.

Matt was beginning to once again enjoy a stable, productive and fulfilling life when a medical emergency struck in July of 2020. He began experiencing seizures, balance and coordination issues as well as confusion and an inability to speak or understand language. It was discovered that he was suffering with severe encephalopathy. His treatment team at the VA provided excellent care and Matt returned to the RISE VA program with home health care. Although he has made a near full recovery, he still experiences some lingering effects but his doctors believe those will dissipate over time.

Since Matt has been in the RISE VA program he has reconnected with many old friends and made new ones which offer him a dependable and caring support network. He has also become active once again in his faith and attends an Atlanta chapter of the LDS church. We hope Matt and Ruckus will have many happy years together.