George has had a life unlike most. Right out of high school, George felt called to the military where he would serve 2 ½ years at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Fort Benning, Georgia. Being one of 13 kids raised in Kansas City Missouri, he loved serving and this experience had changed him for the better.
During that period, life got rough for George. He left military service due to an altercation he got in with another soldier. Shortly afterward, his life radically changed when his wife died after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Financially it left him with nowhere to go. Originally having a dual income of $1.5k per month with two dogs to take care of, it suddenly became impossible with now only $750 a month in his pocket and with an eviction on the horizon. He was unable to pay his rent. Zeus and Bella (his two dogs) were his world and it all collapsed into the realization that he may have to give them up too. The trials he faced only got heavier and, in his words, made a “poor person feel even poorer”. He would then go on to endure the deaths of his wife and youngest brother. In the days that followed, he truly felt the weight of the world on his shoulder
On a cold and rainy day, his life began to change for the better through a program called Reboot VA. It was a gathering held for Veterans and Homeless Veterans with the goal of assisting Veterans and their families to find employment or grow their own businesses. They want to make sure that in making the transition from military service to civilian life, they get the assistance they need to move forward. That is where George met Rhonda Gonzalez, a case manager with CCKCSJ SSVF. He told Rhonda about his financial need and that he was in dire need of a next step. Through her, his rent and utility bills were brought up to date, and he and his dogs remained in their apartment. George was absolutely overjoyed and relieved at the news, now finally seeing the shadow that had been cast over his head turn bright with new hope.
George truly felt Rhonda’s support the moment he told her about his situation. She truly cared about his wellbeing. She made certain he kept his counseling appointments and got him the necessary referrals to assure he got the help he needed: “People just don’t do that. She cared.” George said.
As a member of the military, you feel a sense of ownership to defend your country. George felt that during those days, and in the years after he got out of the military. When he first met with Rhonda, it was a long time before he could come to grips with accepting help. “I didn’t want to look like a failure. It’s a humbling experience. Pride doesn’t let you accept help when you need it” George said. The difference was he felt like he belonged. “That is the best medicine a person can get: when someone cares about you” George said. “CCKCSJ gave a Veteran a chance to survive”.
Continuing following along our journey with George in the SSVF Program, to learn how crucial these services are for Veterans facing homelessness.