Andre was born at Duke Hospital in Durham, only a few miles away from his new CASA apartment.
He entered the Army in 1977, where he fractured his foot almost as soon as he got there. “My disabilities came about from when I was going through training in the military,” he explains. “By the time I finished Basic…I had fractured my right foot but I didn’t want to go on sick call.” Andre was eventually sent to a podiatrist and given cork prosthetics for his shoes, but when they wore out he couldn’t afford to replace them.
After the military, Andre worked in a paper warehouse and in hospitality jobs. “My feet just went bad again,” he remembers. “Nothing I did was relieving me of the pain and it took me three years to get assigned a primary doctor at the VA.”
Andre had to quit working due to his foot problems. He lived with his daughter while her youngest son was small. “I just became so attached to him because I was there when he was an infant,” he says of the grandson. “When he got sick at daycare, they’d bring him to me, so I was the one he’d come to when anything was troubling or bothering him.”
After several years living with his daughter, Andre moved into transitional housing for veterans in Durham and tried to find a place of his own. “I’ve had two vouchers,” he says. “Looking for housing was rough because I don’t have personal transportation…and [in some places] it would take me two hours to get to the VA.”
He applied to CASA and waited for 18 months for the new veteran community in Durham to be completed. “Now I can have my grandkids come visit me, and spend the night,” he smiles. “I can be independent once again.”
The grandson he helped care for is the one he has missed the most. Andre hadn’t seen him for two years. Today, Andre has his own place in a community of veterans and his grandson has already come to visit. Andre is working with doctors to come up with a long term solution for his feet. He smiles a lot. “I consider myself a good neighbor,” he says. “I try to always be considerate of others. I think I have a lot to offer.”