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Getting a Vet Back on Her Feet
A female U.S. Army veteran found herself unemployed with outdated work skills and a 50 percent service-connected disability. While she was receiving some disability payments, she had no other income and needed financial assistance with rent, utilities and food. She also needed a plan to establish stability for herself and her son, who suffered from severe anxiety disorder.
A national veteran service organization referred her to an existing community-based support, which stepped in with an immediate plan of action. The staff first assisted her in filing a medical necessity form to have her electricity restored. The local Easter Seals affiliate then worked with the State Home Energy Assistance Program, the Salvation Army, and St. Vincent DePaul to get her access to food stamps through County Department of Job and Family Services. Given Easter Seals’ expertise in children and disability services, they were able to connect her to a lawyer so she could file for disability benefits for her son. Finally, she was contacted with the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation department to coordinate benefits and educational assistance in preparing for a job search.
This veteran is now getting back on her feet and moving forward on a clear path towards independence.
The Kindness of Strangers
Sometimes all it takes is a kind, caring person who steps in to lend some expertise. A local U.S. Army veteran visiting a hospitalized friend was overheard by a staff nurse complaining that his mouth was hurting very badly. The nurse took a look and suggested that he call Easter Seals Dixon Center Operation Vets THRIVE’s Community OneSource in Cincinnati right away because it turned out that he had two teeth broken down to the filling. Further, the nerve on one tooth was exposed, exacerbating the pain, and the other tooth was infected.
Although the veteran had a pending case to claim service-related disability benefits due to ongoing back issues, he did not have any means of accessing or paying for dental care. Community OneSource staff tracked down a local dentist who agreed to provide free dental care as a way of giving back to those who had served in the military. The dentist extracted one tooth, saved the other and prescribed medications to deal with the infection and the pain. The patient felt immediate relief and was thankful to return to his “regular” life.
Assistance in Providing a Final Farewell
The American Red Cross contacted Easter Seals Dixon Center Community OneSource in Southern Ohio with a heartbreaking story, asking for assistance from Operation Veterans THRIVE. A local woman faced a terrible dilemma. She cared for her nephew, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, as if he was her own son. After an honorable discharge, this young man returned to Afghanistan as a civilian contractor educating Afghan security forces. A month before he was scheduled to come home to see his newborn son, he was killed by a suicide bomber. Even though his aunt served as his surrogate mother, neither the Army nor the civilian company for whom he worked would help her travel to the funeral.
While numerous organizations have been established in an effort to assist veterans and their families, these organizations usually restrict assistance to immediately family. Although she had stepped into the role of this man’s mother, the veteran’s aunt was technically ineligible to access this assistance.
Community OneSource personnel contacted more than 30 establishments in an attempt to obtain financial assistance, but it seemed as if no one would help. Finally, Community OneSource Specialists found a local organization that not only paid for the aunt’s transportation, but gave her some extra cash for the road. The week following the funeral, she called Community OneSource to let them know that the funeral service was beautiful and provided some small measure of solace. Her nephew’s son had made the effort to get transportation worthwhile, but the aunt’s gratitude made it truly meaningful to the Community OneSource staffers.