David Miller was essentially homeless. In the summer of 2014 he made his way to the Salvation Army looking for a place to stay — a military veteran with no place to go.
Today, David turns a key in a door to his own home — a home he worked hard to secure for his family.
But it wasn’t easy.
David served his country spending eight years in the Army Reserves and then the U.S. Army. He was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003.
But upon his return to Rome, David began suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which he says led him down a dark path of addiction that ultimately led to prison.
“I made some pretty bad choices,” he said. “And I own that. I regret it. I just felt like I had to deal with the PTSD and I didn’t really have any help doing that.”
When he got out of prison in 2014, things weren’t looking up for David. He had no job or any place to stay and as a last resort, ended up seeking shelter at the Salvation Army.
But that’s when things changed.
“I was rescued by a friend of mine,” David said. “She said she couldn’t let me just stay at the Salvation Army so she said I could stay at her place for a while.”
David slept on his friend’s couch. His worldly possessions consisted of two sets of clothes. He had no job, no car and not even a driver’s license.
He started looking for work but many places wouldn’t hire — or let him go after hiring him — after learning about his prison record.
Undaunted, David decided he needed to go to school to improve his situation. He enrolled at Georgia Northwestern Technical College seeking a Welding and Joining Technology diploma.
“I had these specialized skills from the military but nowhere to apply them,” he said. “I had gone through a series of jobs and realized I loved welding so I decided that’s what I wanted to get my degree in.”
David did everything he could to be a good student, sometimes even walking miles to class since he didn’t have a car. But he persevered and even made the Dean’s List.
He finally got his diploma and kept looking for welding jobs but his past would always be the reason he was turned down until he applied at Miura Manufacturing in Rockmart.
“In the past I had gotten jobs and when they found out I’d been to prison they let me go,” David said. “That was heartbreaking and really frustrating. So when I applied (at Miura) I told them up front that this is the situation and this is what I’ve been through just so they’d know right off the bat what the situation was. Well they said ‘You wanna weld? Show us what you can do.’ and I did. I showed them my welding skills and they hired me right then and there.”
David’s been with Miura for three years and is grateful that the company valued his skills and saw his commitment to improving his life. They didn’t just look at his past and judge him like so many others had done.
Slowly, David was putting his life back together. He won custody of his two sons from a previous marriage and was now on the road to getting his family a home.
But there was a problem. Up until recently, David and his family had been renting a house in Cedartown but he wanted a home to call their own. The problem was that David had no idea how to even go about buying a house.
“I didn’t know anything about how to manage your credit or even look at it to make a major purchase,” he said. “But Rick (Baxter) with Hometown Realty got me started on the right track to finding a home that my family and I wanted to live in.”
However, finding the right home was only half the battle. David then had to secure a loan to buy the house. That’s when Blaine Kirby with Guild Mortgage Company entered the picture.
“When David came to us, his credit wasn’t what it needed to be to purchase the home he wanted,” Kirby said. “Even though he’s a veteran there were still some hurdles that needed to be overcome. So I sat down with him and I told him we had to address his credit first. I told him all the things he could do to get his credit where it needed to be and David went out and took care of each and every single thing I asked him to.”
Kirby said all loans are different and each client gets personalized help for their particular case. But David’s situation tugged at his heart.
“We really really wanted to help David,” he said. “We work hard for all our clients but it’s important to us to work especially hard for our veterans. When I had the opportunity to help David and I saw him struggling, I knew we would make it work for him. We had to. Him being a veteran just struck a chord with me. He fought for this country. That deserves our respect and gratitude and we were going to get him in the home he wanted.”
With everyone working together and David doing everything that was asked of him, they finally secured a loan. On Feb. 28, David signed all the papers and got the keys to his new home. He and his wife Kimber, along with their children, started moving in that evening.
The hard work, the rejections, the walking miles to class, struggles were all worth it.
“I’m proud that I could take this next step in securing a future for my family,” David said. “And I’m thankful that I had people along the way that I could trust to help me. I ain’t always made the best decisions in life but I’ve worked hard to make up for it and to make good on my promises. But this is just one step in much bigger things to come. I’m gonna keep pushing and moving forward and reaching even higher.”