Manoj was born and raised in India and came to the United States in 2008. Due to untreated mental illness and substance abuse, he struggled to keep a job and was in and out of homeless shelters for over seven years.

In July 2019, the Homeless Coalition referred Manoj to Talbot House for intake. He was accepted into the housing program and met his case manager.

His case manager connected Manoj to BayCare Behavioral Health, where he received treatment for his mental illnesses and substance abuse.

“I have a personality disorder and schizophrenia. I would drink until I blacked out just so that I couldn’t hear the voices in my head. I’m so grateful that I found this program and have received help addressing my mental illness and becoming sober. I have had to change a lot of things, and it’s a daily battle, but it’s been worth it.”

Unfortunately, Manoj’s mental illness is severe. Even while on medication and practicing sobriety, he is unable to maintain a job. Our SOAR Benefits Specialist assisted Manoj with applying for disability benefits. However, his application was denied because he was not a citizen.

The housing program advocated for Manoj to receive an immigration attorney, and over the span of 15 months, they worked closely with the attorney to gather documentation for his application. In January, Manoj interviewed for citizenship where he finally received US citizenship.

Manoj shares, “The day I received my citizenship was the second happiest day of my life. The first was when I entered the United States in 2008.”

Now that Manoj is a citizen, our benefits specialist is once again working with him to apply for disability benefits. He hopes that this time around, he will be approved quickly. In the meantime, Manoj continues to attend psychiatric appointments, take his prescribed medications, and is about to reach one year sober.

Manoj, we celebrate your citizenship with you and are so proud of all of the steps that you have taken towards healing and wholeness!

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