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Army vet who overcame homelessness, drug addiction, will be presidential guest at the SOTU
Army vet who overcame homelessness, drug addiction, will be presidential guest at the SOTU (WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - There were days when Army veteran Tony Rankins was living out of his car and jobless.

"I felt humiliated, embarrassed... I couldn't face my family, my children, my wife was gone... I felt I had nothing else to live for," Rankins said.

After he returned from a tour in Afghanistan, Rankins felt the collapsing weight of PTSD.

His wife left him, and he became consumed by drug addiction - a way to escape his flashbacks.

But after being in and out of jail and locked up for 18 months at one point, he found a lifeline - a construction project being carried out by R Investments. That was two years ago.

The Denver based company has trained Rankins in construction trades including carpentry, framing, brick work and painting.

"Other people didn't want anything to do with me, they would just say he's homeless," Rankins said. "He's worth nothing, and that's how I felt until i got with this company."

Rankin has gone from being destitute to being a guest of the president. He'll be in the gallery, serving as an example and inspiration, during the president's state of the union address.

"To be able to watch people who are at rock bottom, come up and rise to their highest and best, especially as Tony has, is an incredible honor," said Travis Steffens, the CEO of R Investments.

These days Rankins lives in Cincinnati.

He has an apartment, he's off drugs, and he's back with his wife. He says all of that couldn't have been possible without the support and training from R Investment's off-the-street program.

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