OAHU, Hawaii (KITV) — After 10 tours in 14 years in the U.S. Navy, 42-year-old Alexander Cooper hit rock bottom.
He suddenly found himself on the streets last year, and turned to the most important person in his life to find his way out.
“That was my focus, that was my drive, that was my fortitude, everything.”
The Navy veteran’s love for his son helped lift him out of homelessness.
Cooper, originally from Indiana, moved to Oahu with his girlfriend in 2019 and said he left the service to be a full-time caregiver for their son Alex Jr., now 6 years old.
When his relationship soured last August, he said he was literally kicked to the curb and separated from his son for eight and a half months.
“It was a shock,” Cooper said. “It was definitely a shock to the system, but I knew my son needed me.”
Cooper said his now ex-girlfriend took their son South Carolina, more than 4,500 miles apart. With his heart and soul crushed, he said he was inspired to fight for his son.
“I felt embarrassed. I felt depressed, super depressed,” he said. “It wasn’t just being homeless that did it. It was COVID going on, my son is gone, everything I knew was turned upside down.”
For a moment, Cooper said he completely lost hope and was treated like an outcast.
“There is a stigma behind it. People cast you aside, people think that you’re dangerous,” Cooper said. “I was totally alone.”
That’s when he called the veterans crisis hotline — connecting him to the Institute for Human Services — then placed into a group home for veterans in Kalihi.
Soon he landed a job, then his own apartment.
“No matter how bad it gets, all it takes is one person to sit up there and see you and help or even just reach out.”
Cooper said if he did not take the hand that reached out to help him, there would be no chance for a happy reunion.
Although his fight is not completely over — he still has a court battle ahead to prove he is stable enough to have long-term custody — when the sun sets each evening, he now gets to watch it … with his son.
Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.