Melvin “Rusty” Cauley was born in Niagara Falls, NY. He lived a comfortable upbringing, traveling around the globe with his family, his father an active duty United States Marine. When he was 17, Melvin decided to join the service himself and enlisted in the Army.
He remembers his years in the service as some of the best of his life, until an incident occurred that killed 6 of his close comrades. The event left Melvin deeply traumatized, and his years in the service ended soon after.
Melvin first experienced homelessness in June of 2011. He had been incarcerated, and once released found it hard to find work. Without sustainable income, Melvin soon became homeless.
Melvin saw no change in sight for him until one day he decided to approach a well dressed man he saw downtown. “I told him that I wasn’t looking for food or money.
I told him that I was a disabled veteran and I just wanted to know where I could find some help.” The man told him he should try United Way 2-1-1 and it was then that he was connected to the Vets Connects program which introduced him to Homes of Light. “They helped me get food and furniture.”
Now Melvin is piecing his life back together. He’s seeking help for the mental trauma that resulted from his service years.
He has worked for the Regional Commission on Homelessness’s PATH Team as a Peer Specialist, helping other homeless men and women like himself find the courage to get the help they need.
“I definitely feel happy to have a life for which I can feel proud.”