When 34-year-old Kyle Hernandez first enlisted in the Army 14 years ago, he had no idea that life would take the turns that it did.

Hernandez is originally from Ohio but has called Galesburg home for a while now. He enlisted in the Army in 2006 and separated in 2009.

“I got wrongly arrested less than a year after I got out of the Army, and then did about 4.5 years in prison until I got my case overturned. At which point I was released into Galesburg, Illinois,” said Hernandez.

That was a rude awakening for someone fresh off the military base. However, Hernandez said he was soon able to find comfort and joy in his first love, music.

“When I got out I was broken. Musical festivals is what made it better. I found comfort in the loud music, the crowds and the sun,” said Hernandez.

His life finally seeming to progress after he found a gig touring with music festivals nationally. Hernandez said he was back on his feet.

“I was living in Chicago in a glass-window condo on Diversey. I had a car, a bike, a moped and new condo. I was doing good and broke into the music industry,” said Hernandez.

That was until the year that took everyone by storm.

“COVID hit and it wiped me out, wiped the industry out and it wiped my charity out,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez had started multiple charities to help other veterans with PTSD and suicide prevention. However, after COVID hit he was out of work and out of a home.  

“I started getting calls from all these other vets and I couldn’t do anything for them. And it just wore on me” said Hernandez.

He has since moved to Galesburg but has been struggling to find any security. He says he still wants to help other homeless veterans.

“I have a spot in my heart for the people that are here that I know they want to better their lives. The only reason I do not want to leave is I don’t want to leave people behind,” said Hernandez.