Success Story: Andrea
Veterans Inc.: A Shining Star in One Veteran’s Life
Veterans Inc. Helps Veteran on Her Journey to a New Life
Partway along the long drive from Florida to Maine with her four-year-old son on her way to a new job and a new life, Andrea realized she wasn’t “going to make it.” Running out of money, she could no longer afford to stay in hotels along the way. She had nowhere to go and no means of continuing her journey. She was stuck.
The move from Florida to Maine is what Andrea has called “‘The Great Escape’ (from poverty).” An Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, Andrea was honorably discharged after four and a half years of service when she became pregnant with her son. Faced with starting a new career and the end of her marriage, Andrea struggled as a single mom in school full-time, but ultimately earned her master’s degree in social work.
When a friend saw an open social worker position in Maine, Andrea jumped at the opportunity to move back and better her life. She packed her belongings, rented a storage unit, and readied herself and her son for the long journey. Having reached out to Veterans Inc. in Maine to inquire about the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, she knew of the organization’s other New England locations. So when she realized she could go no further, she began making her way to the Veterans Inc. women and children program in Worcester, MA.
After spending a night sleeping in their car, Andrea and her son met with the Veterans Inc. staff the next day, and they immediately got to work assisting her. Andrea soon realized that this place was more than just a shelter, as she describes, “This is where I’m meant to be.” She and her son were given a place to stay, her son was enrolled in the Little Patriots Early Learning Center downstairs, staff secured a hotel for her so she could interview for a temporary job in Maine, and they lined up an apartment and SSVF services.
In the course of just a couple of weeks, Andrea was back on her journey to her new life, having secured housing, services, support, and a temporary job in Maine. In a letter to one Veterans Inc. staff member she writes, “Thank you for being a shining star on one of the gloomiest time of my life. If it were not for you letting me stay when I landed on your doorstep. . . I would have been lost. . . Your kind heart and genuine devotion to veterans not only made my plans come true but your effective[ness] and efficiency made things happen that I didn’t even know I needed or wanted.”
Andrea says that it if not for the ability of the Veterans Inc. staff to move quickly to address her immediate and long-term needs, “things would have been drastically different.” “Everyone was understanding, compassionate, and empathetic,” Andrea recalls, and she is grateful for all of the help she has received. Today, she continues to get settled in her new apartment and is waiting for her new job to start. She is excited and hopeful about her new life and has set a goal for herself for next year: to own her very own home.