Earlier this month, the video of homeless United States Army Veteran James Wolf getting a makeover brought tears to my eyes. Wolf has a history of alcoholism, substance abuse, and mental illness. He's been arrested over 80 times. When Dégagé Ministries, a Christian non-profit that helps the homeless and others with various disadvantages, stepped in to give Jim a makeover, it was a beautiful gesture to help Jim get on a better path. His transformation was inspiring and you could see the look of hope come across his face when he saw himself.
Overcoming addiction is often a long path filled with setbacks. Sadly, Jim is dealing with a setback. He was arrested and admits he started drinking again.
Now that he is "famous," Jim has the world keeping an eye on him, which comes with its own set of pressures. On Sunday, 54-year-old Wolf was arrested at a Burger King in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was charged with trespassing and creating a disturbance, and has pled guilty. He will serve 20 days in jail. His drinking started again, but that doesn't mean he won't stop again. He's done it once, he can do it again. Recovery is a long term commitment, and we need long term expectations. As they say, we have to take it one day at a time.
Still, I haven't lost any hope for him. My father is a Vietnam Veteran and served in the army -- he's also a part of Rolling Thunder and now serves other veterans who are in need. It's a cause that is very close to my heart and my family's. A makeover and a fancy suit can help someone's spirits, it can be amazing for that moment, but we need so much more than that to overcome addiction, and battle mental illness. And one setback -- even a few setbacks -- doesn't mean Jim Wolf won't eventually get back on track. He's a hero, after all. A survivor. He can do this. It may take time, but he can do this. We can't lose hope. And neither can he.
Have you been around people with addictions who have had setbacks?
Image via Kent County Sheriff