SJC client’s death inspired Sherman to seek housing

St. John Center has always been an important resource for homeless veterans. Even though the number of veterans utilizing the shelter has been steadily declining, more than 330 former military men visited SJC during the last fiscal year.

Sherman is one of those veterans.

During a 10-year-military career, he became a squad leader in charge of nine other soldiers. A member of the 2nd Armored Division, he was trained to drive an armored personnel carrier which could transport 16 men. He spent 13 months in Korea, eventually earning the rank of Staff Sergeant.

“I loved the military,” said Sherman. “I learned a lot while I was in the Army. I learned how to take orders and accept responsibility.”

Although he had his first drink as a 16-year-old, alcohol did not become a problem in Sherman’s life until he left the Army. Despite battling alcoholism, he was able to work most of the time, but the disease eventually left him homeless.

Sherman first came to St. John Center in July, 2001. It was more than 14 years before he had a place to call home. A tragedy convinced Sherman to make housing a priority in his life and last July he moved into an apartment.

It was the death of St. John Center client Kenneth Winfield on a frigid February night that made Sherman vow he would not suffer the same fate.

“I saw Kenny the night he died. I asked him and his lady if they were going to a shelter because the wind chill was way below zero. He said they were going to stay outside and just ride it out,” explained Sherman. “The next day I found out he had died. I made the decision right then and there to get the help I needed to find housing. I did not want to wind up like Kenny.”

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