Veteran cooks up new life in St. Cloud
Patrick Kath is a recovering alcoholic and formerly homeless veteran who served as a U.S. Army cook from 1983 to 1989, including two years in Korea. These days, he cooks at a Perkins family restaurant in St. Cloud – a job that didn’t come easy.
A little over a year ago, Kath was homeless, jobless and struggled to stay sober.
“I used to live behind Menards in the woods, had my own little shack setup – that’s what I did for six months,” said Kath, who’s been in jail several times for alcohol-related offenses.
Thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the St. Cloud Salvation Army, Kath has spent the last year holding down a steady job, paying off long overdue bills, and is well on his way to finding a place of his own.
Through the partnership, Kath successfully completed a chemical dependency program and has a temporary place to stay at the St. Cloud Salvation Army. The Army sets aside seven beds at its housing facility that are solely for veterans in need of assistance.
Fittingly, Kath walked into the St. Cloud Salvation Army for the first time several days before Veteran’s Day in 2013. A few days later, on Veteran’s Day itself, Perkins hired him. The restaurant desperately needed somebody to help meet the demands of all the free breakfasts it was serving to his fellow veterans.
“It was a crazy day,” Kath smiled. “I was able to jump right in and help.”
He hasn’t stopped working at Perkins since, and his life is getting better and better every day. The job afforded him the ability to pay off on an old $3,000 jail bill from 1993. He made the final payment several weeks ago and later received a statement in the mail proving his accomplishment.
“I hung that up on the wall,” Kath said, adding that he now has more money to save for a place of his own.