Every day, thousands of brave men and women in the armed forces put their lives on the line. These men and women make great sacrifices to protect our everyday freedoms. Which is why it’s our job as a community to take care of them in their times of need. With Memorial Day coming up, we wanted to take a moment to share a story of one of the veterans we serve at UMOM.
John is a Navy veteran, who worked as an operations specialist, running radar systems for ships for eight years. He and his teenage son, Dylan, recently fell on some hard times that resulted in homelessness. Today, John is taking the necessary steps to end their homelessness and build a brighter future for himself and Dylan. You can read their full story down below.
A few years ago John and his teenage son Dylan led a pretty normal life. They were renting an apartment in Phoenix, John worked as a commercial truck driver and they had just bought a new car. However, John was dealing with debilitating medical issues that made walking and driving exceedingly challenging for him.
Ultimately his medical issues forced him to quit his job. The only other job he had prior to driving trucks was in the Navy running radar systems for ships. He continued to look for employment but the lack of prior work experience and severity of his medical issues made it increasingly difficult.
He was soon months behind on rent and he and Dylan were evicted. Dylan went to live with his mother temporarily. With strained family relationships, no stable income, mounting debt, medical issues and a minimal skill set, John felt like he had no other option but to live out of his car for several months. Being separated from Dylan made each day passing day even harder for him.
In trying to find help, John was referred to UMOM. He was accepted to live in UMOM’s transitional housing for veterans and he felt a small weight lift off his shoulders. However, when Dylan rejoined him, they were unable to stay there because the program required children to be younger than 18. John’s relief quickly turned into fear. He couldn’t stop imagining himself and Dylan being homeless, sleeping on a bus stop bench.
His case manager knew they had limited options and didn’t want them to have to sleep on the streets, so she worked tirelessly to try to get them into UMOM’s emergency shelter. “She [John’s case manager] got on the phone,” John said. “She just kept after it and kept after it. She would not give up on us.”
With the help of his case manager, John and Dylan got into emergency shelter. John started seeking out treatment for his mental and physical health issues and pursued various benefits offered to veterans. Dylan started improving in school, with his grades raising from F’s to A’s. Each day, John’s hope was slowly restored.
“When we came here I didn’t really have a lot of faith in good things happening,” John said. “That’s been restored because of UMOM and the people who work here. Not just because of what they’ve done for me but by seeing what they do for so many people.”
John was recently approved for subsidized housing, where he’ll continue to receive case management and other supportive services. Along with their new apartment, John and Dylan have even more to celebrate. Dylan graduated from high school this week. “For an 18-year-old that’s graduating from high school it’s been hard on him in ways that I just can’t even imagine,” John said. “I’ve always described him as the brightest star in my sky.” After graduation, Dylan hopes to pursue a career in the marines or auto body fabrication.
Even though it was extremely difficult, John and Dylan have risen above adversity and continue to move toward a brighter future. Today, John is still searching for a job and seeking treatment for his medical issues.
“One of the best things about UMOM is the people who work here,” John said. “Like my case worker. No matter what kind of issue or problem I come to her with, she always has a positive take on it. Regardless of what it is she helps me figure out a solution. UMOM has really been so much of a godsend to my son and I.”
Together, we can help ensure that no veteran experiencing homelessness feels alone or left behind.
As you know, in addition to serving veterans and their families, UMOM also serves families, women and youth experiencing homelessness. Did you know a donation of $27 will provide one night of shelter for a family at UMOM?
Will you consider giving a gift today to help families like John’s end their cycle of homelessness?