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Wwyd?
Old 08-15-2022, 02:00 AM
  #1

Some backstory:

There's a man in my small town who is known as the village drunk. Jay's a very kind person and spends his winters shoveling snow for the elderly (including me) for a ridiculously low price (which I suspect is the price of a 6 pack of the cheapest beer). He does a great job, though. He is a veteran, on SSI, and can often be seen walking around town (no driver's license) with his can of beer. He's harmless, but he is doing harm to himself, of course. He looks like he's in his 70s, but actually he's in his late 50s. He's more to be pitied than scolded, as the old song goes. Periodically he will knock on my door to say hello or stop to chat when we cross paths on the rail trail.

More backstory:

This spring I had a problem (first time since I've lived here) with trespassers on my property. Teens were littering, talking loudly (with language peppered with the F word), and ripping branches off trees...I guess the lack of supervision during covid has made them feral. I had to post my property and tell them I would call the police if I saw them again.

So the other day:

GF and I returned from camping and decided to walk down to the lower field to check on the gardens. Just as we started to go down the hill, who do we meet coming up? Jay! He's extremely inebriated, worse than I ever have seen him (and he's always under the influence). He looks terrible. He says, "I'm sorry, I just needed a little nap, so I went to lie down at the edge of your woods." He lives nearby, so I asked why he didn't just go home. He says he didn't think he could walk up the hill to his house. I pointed out the no trespassing sign and told him I couldn't let him use my property for a nap, but he was in no condition to reason with.

He's been looking generally worse this summer, and last winter he slipped and fell down a slope at the edge of the rail trail. He was drunk, hurt his leg, and fell asleep apparently...long enough to get frostbite.

I'm truly afraid I'll walk down to the field next spring after the snow melts and find him dead and clutching a can of beer.

Local police are well aware of Jay. I doubt they would do anything except lock him up for a day or two (at most), and I don't think that would make much difference in Jay's behavior.

GF (who is an alcoholic in recovery for 34 years, and who worked as a mental health visiting nurse for the VA) says there's probably nothing I or anyone can do for Jay unless he decides he wants some help. I suspect he's right...It makes me sad that such a nice man is struggling just to live because of his drinking, and I think his general health is getting noticeably worse lately.

What do you think? How do I respond to this situation?


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Old 08-15-2022, 03:51 AM
  #2

Sadly, this could be my brother. It truly could.

I'm not sure there's much you can do, other than to have the local police keep a closer eye on him. Maybe make them aware that you have seen a decline.

Other than that, just be aware if you haven't seen him for awhile. When you do see him, show him that you care. Ask how he's doing. Keep that contact with him in place. If a longer than normal time goes without seeing him, do what you can to ask around and/or let the local police know.

Perhaps others have better ideas.
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Jay
Old 08-15-2022, 04:13 AM
  #3

I take it he has no family? I was wondering if you have ever been able to express your concern to him? Even though your GF has a good point that Jay will not do anything until he really wants to, I think trying is still important. I like eliza's idea of keeping in touch. Maybe a breakfast when he possibly is more sober and you can offer help or let him know you're worried.
I applaud you for your caring spirit and hope for the best.
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Old 08-15-2022, 04:55 AM
  #4

I would report to the police that you have concerns about him. Yes, they may only put in him in jail to dry him out, but it will also put it on their radar again. They may know about him, but if it is not brought to their attention, they may not know that his health is getting worse.

Is there a local organization for veterans? They may have some type of outreach resources where they can check on him and try to get him the services he needs.
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Old 08-15-2022, 08:01 AM
  #5

I like Choppie70’s idea of contacting a veterans’ organization. Maybe they could get him into supportive housing where there are services since it seems his ability to care for himself is declining. Could his excessive drinking be linked to PTSD? If so, I would think he should be able to qualify for some kind of help.

You are a good neighbor!


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Not sure
Old 08-15-2022, 08:26 AM
  #6

Just as others have mentioned…organizations for Veterans? Any family members nearby?

Wanted to add: if you noticed him, I am sure some of your neighbors have too. Maybe you all can find a solution together, if Jay wants help.
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Old 08-15-2022, 08:40 AM
  #7

I'm going to agree with guy friend. For help to work, you actually have to want help. Now the police may be different where you live, but in most places this guy would not be treated like Otis in Mayberry. Here calling the police would make things worse.

He may have no family. Or he may have a lot of family that over the years has tried to get him help and been unsuccessful. They may be in the wings hoping he becomes willing to get help.

I have no idea what the actual solution is -- what would motivate this guy to get help. If it were I, I think I'd step back and ask GF to interact with him next time he's on property. While GF is reminding him to stay off property maybe, in the conversation, he can suggest help this guy will accept (or maybe not).

Unfortunately, your fears may be correct. Unless something changes, odds are that someone will.find this guy beyond help someday.
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Old 08-15-2022, 09:57 AM
  #8

Situations like these are where I think it would be nice if we did reorganize our police force so that social workers and counselors could be part of the response team. I'm willing to pay more in taxes if it funds a social worker who checks in on people like him every day. Because I don't think there is anything you can do to really help him. He has to want help and it doesn't sound like he does.
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