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Bouncing back: A Reserve Citizen Airman's journey from near homelessness

Nearly homeless

Tech Sgt. Daniel Faust chat with Staff Sgt. Lisa Neets at Air Force Reserve Command headquarters, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Faust has experienced a lot of ups and downs in his life, including being nearly homeless. He credits the Air Force Reserve with helping him get his life back on track. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tyler Grimes)

Nearly homeless

Daniel Faust and his family ham it up for the camera. (courtesy photo)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- As a young man working in a grocery store in 2000, Daniel Faust didn’t realize the ups and downs life had in store for him. But he would soon find out.

While working in the grocery business, Faust made the decision to join the active Air Force in October of 2000.

“I wanted to do something more significant with my life than just working at a grocery store,” he said during a recent interview at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

He spent several years on active duty and had a number of different careers, including work in aircraft maintenance, security forces, information management, the postal service and mental health.

One of Faust’s assignments took him to Germany. While there, he said he started to feel like he was being called to do something greater with his life. He felt compelled to help others rise to their highest potential.

“My initial motivations were purely selfish and to chase rank and assignments,” he said. “It was gaining a faith and connecting with the Spangdahlem (Air Base) Chapel Navigators Ministry that started to change my focus.”

It was during his next assignment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, that Faust faced some major life challenges.

“I got married, changed jobs and was tasked to deploy all within a two-month time period,” he said. With so much happening in his life all at one time, Faust felt overwhelmed and said he started wrestling with the idea of divorcing his wife, who was pregnant at the time.

This was definitely a low point in Faust’s life, but he said things took a turn for the better when he received a care package from his wife. In it was a book titled “Positive Personality Profiles” by Dr. Robert Rohm. The book and some long talks with his Air Force chaplain helped him further discover and refine his life’s purpose. That purpose, Faust said, is to teach people how to have better relationships.

“It was the first time in my life I understood how God wired me and others, especially my wife,” he said. “Since then, everything I do – no matter where I am financially – is to help others thrive in their relationships. God has given us so much and it’s in our hearts to serve.”

With a new focus in his life, Faust decided to leave active duty in July 2012 and try to make a living helping others. He started his own business, focusing on church staffs as his clients, in Arkansas shortly after leaving active duty.

It was a decision that would lead his family to the brink of homelessness.

Looking back, Faust said, “This was possibly the worst decision I made in my life. It takes a long time for people to build trust in a services-based business. When my savings were reduced to six weeks of expenses, I had to start looking for another job.”

Unable to find work right away, Faust said he reached a point where he only had $300 in his checking account and he and his family were days away from being homeless.

“We have actually been close to homelessness three other times,” he said.

“It’s hard to look into your wife’s and kids’ eyes and tell them that we might have to live in a homeless shelter and it’s hard to have to work six jobs at one time, barely seeing your family, with little money to show for all the time you put in,” he said.

Faust said the last time he and his family were facing homelessness, he “was praying to God, asking what to do” when he received a deposit of $700 into his checking account.

Faust’s disability claim with the Veterans Administration had just come through and he received a letter confirming his claim from the VA that same day.

It was shortly after the Faust family received their money from the VA that they got more good news. Faust received a job offer with the Air Force Reserve and was able to finalize his military contract.

“It was a huge blessing to be back in the service and to be able to take care of my family,” he said. “My experience in the Reserve has been extremely fulfilling. It has allowed me to meet great people, travel around the world and finally get to be the person I want to become and perform my calling.”

Today, Tech. Sgt. Faust serves as a unit training manager for both the 944th Fighter Wing’s Medical Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, and at the headquarters of Air Force Reserve Command at Robins.

Senior Master Sgt. Marlos Davis, AFRC’s functional manager for education and training, is one of Faust’s supervisors and said the technical sergeant is a good representative of his fellow Reserve Citizen Airmen.

“I think his story is synonymous with many other Reservists,” Davis said. “Reserve Airmen are a very unique and invaluable brand of Airmen within the Air Force family. This is true because Reserve Airmen are typically Citizen Airmen and bring to the Air Force their varying skills, knowledge, expertise and capabilities from their civilian careers.”

For those who may be interested in joining the Air Force Reserve – whether they are prior-service or not – Faust has some advice.

“It is not always easy to transition from active duty or civilian status and the drill weekends will be a sacrifice, but the experience is well worth it,” he said. “If you are on the fence, come talk to me or another Reservist. There is so much opportunity and satisfaction when you connect with the right person and do not give up.”