*Editor's Note: Due to VOA's work with vulnerable populations, we cannot show a real picture of David. We can, however, share his story.
David never thought he would be the man at the underpass pleading for help from strangers.
A former radio communications operator in the Marines, David had a bright future until the effects of his service and substance abuse took him down a dark and uncertain path. VOA-MN/WI’s Veteran’s Service Coordinator saw David’s sign identifying himself as an ex-marine and the questions that run through many of our minds when we see these cardboard pleas arose: Is he really a veteran? What will he do with this money? What would really help this person?
Our staff member decided to invite David to lunch where he learned more about David and his military service, ongoing drug and mental health problems, brushes with the justice system and the loss of his job and housing. David also spoke of Rebecca, his girlfriend who was nearly five months pregnant. After the meal, our staff member told David where his program office was and invited him to come by.
David and Rebecca came into the office on a recent Friday afternoon. They had been camping under a heating vent outside a laundry mat. With cold weather approaching, our staff was able to find them temporary shelter for the weekend and helped them access veteran’s funding sources to get them into an apartment.
With housing situated, staff was then able to help David make a resume, join a “job seekers” club for veterans, get proper identification, medical help and an appointment to get furniture for their apartment from another local non-profit. Life continues to be a struggle, but David and Rebecca are taking steps toward stability and anticipating the birth of their child in February.
Every day, about 20 people like David walk into our office seeking help with their job search, finding housing, transportation and other essential needs.
Our staff has developed programs and services that provide an opportunity for a new beginning for those on the brink of losing hope.
Consider a financial investment in support of our programs that will provide people like David and Rebecca the assurance that life can get better with a hand up from people like you — who care about our service men and women.