OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) – A military veteran said he hit rock bottom after being discharged, and he has since promised to help others facing similar realities.
It was one promise veteran-turned-PhD graduate Foley Parker made to himself: "If I ever get out of this, I'm going to dedicate my life, my time from experience of this situation, to help anyone who's served, been discharged, and are veterans that feel when they back to society, the world forgets about them."
That promise made not because he was a veteran, but because he also once felt lost.
"After being discharged, it was a constant struggle to get help," Parker said.
Entering the service at 17 years old, Parker was injured and sent home, fresh out of a war.
He said, "The trauma, injuries, depression of life itself had me resort to self-medicated street drugs. That took another phase of chaos in my life at the time."
Parker soon found himself on the streets, describing the reality of hitting rock bottom.
"I found myself digging into the trash, doing whatever I can to survive,” he told ABC 10News.
Parker recalled asking God for help and checking into a hospital. There, he promised himself that if he got back on his feet, he'd dedicate his life to those facing a similar reality.
"One phase caused me to lose everything I had. My car, apartment, everything,” he said.
Parker started working with a church and eventually founded Holiness Ministries Coalition, a nonprofit aimed at fighting hunger and providing youth and gang prevention services.
"We show them you can come out of the foxhole now because the battle has stopped, and there's help after the battle,” Parker said.
Parker’s story and efforts never went unnoticed. He was recently recognized by the National Veterans of Foreign Wars' "Still Serving" campaign.
He said he never committed to helping people for the attention but says if his story can help others, it was worth it.
"We have to know there is hope, and we can come out of it,” Parker said.