Being a soldier with the United States Armed Forces is a badge of honor. From the uniform they wear to the pride you hear in their voice when speaking of their service, veterans are proud to have served their country.
Facing Hardships after Service
But not all soldiers discharged from the service come home with stories of glory. Depending on how their time in the service was spent, military life can bring a veteran back home a changed person. Today, the transition from military to civilian life is faster than it’s ever been. A veteran can be fighting on a foreign battlefield on a Tuesday and shopping for groceries at home on a Thursday. For those veterans who are not able to make a smooth transition back to civilian life, like those who lose their job or are evicted from their home, The Salvation Army’s Veteran programs are here to help.
As a Case Management Specialist with The Salvation Army’s SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families) program, I serve the veteran population, specifically those who are living on the streets, staying in a homeless shelter or at risk of losing their home. I am working with these men and women every day, helping them get back on their feet or a new start in life.
While there are benefits available to veterans, not everyone who serves is eligible to receive them. In order to obtain a VA pension, you had to have served a minimum of two years of active duty. Many veterans I have worked with have one year of military service, and are facing serious substance abuse issues and physical disabilities. If they are fortunate, they receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and it may be $700 to $1,000 a month. On that income, the veteran is one financial setback away from losing everything.
How The Salvation Army Helps
For veterans who are experiencing homelessness, The Salvation Army helps them find permanent residence, teaches them ways to increase their income, and works with them to to develop and maintain a budget. The Salvation Army can also help by negotiating with a landlord to avoid eviction. We also offer case management to help plan for financial stability moving forward. By doing this, we are helping veterans obtain, maintain and manage life on their own.
I want the veteran men and women I work with to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Lessons I Have Learned
Thanks to my work with veterans at The Salvation Army, I’ve learned many valuable life lessons. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Once you sit down and get to know these veterans and hear their stories, it is incredible to think how much they have been through.
Programs like ours that provide assistance to veterans in our community are essential. Working with The Salvation Army is my way to show veterans, men and women who served our country, that they are not forgotten… there is support for you. So when I can help a veteran find housing and financial assistance, I am showing them that their time was not served in vain.
About the author:
Jeremy C. Wiliams has been with The Salvation Army for four years, three of those with Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. Williams has been working in the Social Services, non-profit world for over 10 years. Prior to his work with The Salvation Army, Williams served as a Health Case Manager with AIDS Foundation Houston. Williams has a Bachelor of Science in Health Education from Texas Southern University.