LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- His story is one of sorrow, loss and shame. But he is now focused and more determined than ever to make a change. In THV's Liz Massey's "Everyone has a Story," meet an Arkansas veteran who can now "picture" a new and better life.
Every brush stroke, every canvas and everyone has a story. For nearly a year, 56-year-old Tony Stallcup has been part of a Creative Expressions Group, a group using art to speak volumes.
One this day, they're painting on a canvas what the word "home" means to them.
"It brought to mind what it feels like to have my own place now, I didn't have to be looking in at other families enjoying themselves, I could look out at the moon and the stars feel secure because I had a home of my own," says Tony.
For the past several months, Tony has been living in his own apartment, before that, on the street like most of the men in this room, homeless.
Each one a veteran, each on struggling to make a change.
Tony says, "For so long I dodged responsibilities and problems, I would get high, get drunk."
Tony had a tough life growing up. Eventually his aunt and uncle adopted him. Despite feeling loved ... "I felt like I wasn't good enough, my other siblings they were with their parents, I just seemed like I was a stray, did nobody want me," says Tony.
Tony gave in to peer pressure turning to drugs and alcohol. He quit school and joined the Navy. But again trouble.
He recalls, "I couldn't adjust to military life, the thing was, I didn't want anybody telling me what to do. I had the attitude that the world owed me something, why me, I was on that pity party why all this happening to me, I never really looked at the whole picture that I was the main cause of my problems."
Tony spent eight years homeless. In and out of rehab and detox more than two dozen times. He believes this time is his last. And this group is helping him through it. It's part of the Veterans Day Treatment Center's "Healing Arts" program.
And on this day, his proud brother Ken drops by. It's an emotional visit. Tony says Ken is his role model. This time with his brother, precious, like another brother he lost to drugs.
He remembers, "I was up there trying to score drugs before I went to the wake and I dropped my drugs in the dark and I was searching for them and they were trying to get me in the car .... and I felt bad."
A feeling he's grown tired of so he's doing something about it.
Tony's been clean for 11 months now, the first time in at least 40 years says Tony. He says it feels great and hopes his story will encourage others.
"Don't give up don't get mad at the government and shake your fist at them and say they forgot about me because they ain't forgot about you, you just got to stick out your hand and ask for them to help you," says Tony.
His goal now win back his family's trust.
"I don't want them to say we'll he died using. This time, I'm determined. If I die with a drug in me, I'd probably be a multi-vitamin, that's probably going to be the only thing in my system," says Tony.
Proof that it's not how the masterpiece begins but how it ends that's important.
Tony is grateful for the staff especially Stephanie, his art teacher and the countless chances he's been given. He lives in Searcy with ongoing support from the Veterans Day Treatment Center and the Wilbur D. Mills facility. But he doesn't live alone, he adopted a cat that was also homeless.
Also, you can see an exhibit of the veterans' artwork at the Market Street Cinema. The "Veterans Art Gallery," which is free and open to the public during Market Street's business hours runs through June 1st.
Remember, if you have a story "like" us on our Facebook page if you haven't already and post y your idea.