His own place. His own space. JayDoo’s gratitude.
It was in college that some friends came to JayDoo with a serious challenge: join them and enlist in the U.S. Army. Wear the uniform. Serve his country. Knowing these decisions shouldn’t be made lightly, he considered the opportunity deeply. To swear an oath, to be part of something bigger than himself; these were life-changing commitments.
“I loved this country, and I desired to keep my friends safe and looked after. I discovered that inside, I knew I would be willing to protect and defend these men and women. So, I joined the Army.”
As a first-generation Hmong American, JayDoo was raised in Central Wisconsin. He now resides in MACV’s transitional housing in Minneapolis and, having received a new lease on life, he makes the most of each day.
JayDoo first contacted MACV as he was ending his time in corrections. As a Veteran facing imminent homelessness once he got out, he knew he had to try every avenue. So he made the call to the Justice-Involved Veterans team and hoped for the best.
After a few phone meetings, JayDoo was approved for transitional housing and met MACV staff at his new transitional home in Minneapolis. After his sister brought him to Minneapolis, JayDoo officially met the team which would help him start anew. On day one, MACV handed him the keys to his new home.
“When they gave me the keys to my place, it was surreal. They came through. They were really handing me the keys to a new start. My own place. My own space. I am so grateful. I immediately felt like I could do this.”
His decision to reach out to MACV required JayDoo to address his fears and nerves. He had taken the first key step in his journey to a new life, and his foot found solid ground. Having a place to call his own made a difference; his courage and determination grew day by day. Now that MACV delivered on their end of the bargain, JayDoo knew he would continue to grow and seek opportunities to develop and help others.
JayDoo shared that his life now reminds him of an experience in college. After building up some courage, JayDoo joined a lot of extracurricular groups. His interests grew, and he began choreographing dance for theatre. From time to time, he would play an extra, small role, and dance or support fellow actors on stage. As long as he took care of his basic needs – grades at that point – he would have the ability to grow and enjoy life.
Changing course, he left school and joined the service. Finding himself in Fort Benning, Georgia, he attended basic training, went home, and served with Wisconsin’s famous Red Arrow, a mortarman in the 128th Infantry Division.
Now, years after first donning the uniform, JayDoo landed a job laying and repairing cable line in the Twin Cities area. At work he relies on his military discipline and leadership skills to help the team along when needed.
When not working, JayDoo loves to read. He pages through leadership books. When he’s not reading, he’s in the kitchen rekindling his passion for food.
He swears by his air fryer, a perfect machine for his new go-to: egg rolls. He’s shared his creations with friends and colleagues – they can’t get enough. His food is so good that others want to buy it.
He wants to share his passion, his food, with Veteran groups and others in need. He recently prepped and cooked 40 eggrolls, sold them, then immediately donated the funds to a local shelter rebuilding after a recent fire.
“I really want to get out there and help those who need it. There are a lot of folks who are hungry, and I look forward to delivering some of my food to them.”
Grateful for life, a place to live, and daily opportunities, JayDoo continues to put himself out there. He’s excited. Facing adversity with hope and strength, JayDoo is determined to overcome his fears and move forward with purpose.
“Without MACV, I would have had nowhere to go when I got out. Nowhere to call home. They changed my life.”