Antione Hines - Past, Present, and Future Hero

Heroes come in many different forms.  Though we often think of them in red capes, the real heroes are the ones who selflessly give for the benefit of others.  The men and women of our United States Military are all heroes, especially those who not only serve valiantly while in uniform, but continue to give back to their communities after their military service. 

Antione Hines is one such hero who embodies this continued mission of sacrifice and giving.  He is a role model in his locale of Hampton Roads, VA, and has recently established his own non-profit organization called "Veterans HomeFront."  It's mission is to be a collaborating, facilitating, and supporting organization to help empower veterans. Partnering with both local government and grassroots initiatives, it's goals are to eradicate veteran homelessness, reduce veteran suicides, and offer veterans the services they need to get off the streets. 

So where did the passion come from?  Quite simply, Antione himself is a veteran, and he's been there.  After transitioning from the Navy, he hit a rough patch. 

With myself transitioning into unemployment, going through a divorce, almost losing my daughter, having suicidal thoughts, and becoming homeless for a time period, I felt that my service to the military boiled down to just money for school and pills from VA. I wanted it to count for more than that, and this drive thrust me into making a difference for my fellow fallen Veterans.

He decided to enter Old Dominion University and pursue a degree in Human Services.  Though he'd worked as a Naval Nuclear Submarine Electrician, it was his work serving people that left the biggest impact.  

With all the technical training that I got in the Navy, it never compared to the community service to others that I experienced in college, in the Navy, and afterwards. A Human Services degree gave me the education necessary to help individuals and communities on a broader basis.

While in college, he worked on a number of initiatives and projects that helped establish him as a community mobilizer.  In 2012, he was approached by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help with the "Fatherhood Initiative."  This project was near and dear to his heart as a single father, and promoted the re-connection of fathers and children to decrease rates of crime, prostitution, suicides, psychological disorders, etc. that can be characteristic of fatherless homes.  By the end of Fathers Day Weekend in 2012, he had organized over 45 events throughout the state of Virginia that promoted Fatherhood, making Virginia the number one state in the US to promote Fatherhood events that year.  These efforts, recognized by the White House, helped open the door to a year-long internship with the City of Chesapeake.  

He began volunteering in the City's library through helping the homeless repair resumes, apply for jobs, etc.  City officials saw his work and asked him to help them with an initiative to end homelessness in Chesapeake.  These efforts brought together faith-based groups to not only feed and care for the less fortunate, but to help them find work and housing.  Antione's time with the City of Chesapeake spanned a year, and included a fellowship with The Mission Continues, an internship with the Aurora Foundation, and internship hours for Old Dominion University - all culminating in his Human Services degree.  From this internship experience, he found he could lead and transform the Hampton Roads area through the creation of Veterans HomeFront.

As someone who has vast experience combating social issues and leading groups to make a change, Antione has seen a lot, especially when it comes to helping veterans.  The main need among veterans today?  Someone who has been there, too, to help show them the way out.

Vets need someone who knows where they are coming from; someone who can relate to them and someone who can help them with the transition out of the military and into their local communities. That “someone” is often from one of the Post-911 organizations, but collaborations among such organizations and passion to support vets together have to be a top priority.

The month of February is a time when we as a nation extol the rich heritage and celebrate the current accomplishments of the African American community.  Antione is not only an example to his family, but his community as well.  He is a hero to every veteran he's helped house, employ, and find a new lease on life.  And he's got some advice for those who also want to make a difference, but haven't exactly found their way yet.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, get into the system, ask questions, and serve where you can. Follow your passion to make a difference in another’s life, and in turn, it will change your life.
— Antione Hines