Saving and Rebuilding the Lives of Veterans
I’ve done a lot of traveling lately to help our many chapters raise more money to assist our nation’s veterans.
At Veterans Support Organization (VSO) chapters across states like Florida, Kentucky and Maryland, I’ve been struck by how many veterans need help with basics like finding work and places to live.
We have been hiring dozens of these veterans and giving them a chance to rebuild their lives. Many have come to us with absolutely nothing. They have lived on friends’ couches, in their cars or deep in the woods after returning from war zones with PTSD. Some have come to us by spotting our employees outside of stores and telling them their stories.
And their stories of what they have been through are heartbreaking and unbelievable. But what’s amazing is how quickly their lives transformed after VSO gave them jobs. They were able to get off the streets, pay off their debts and start planning a better future.
I want to share several of their stories.
Justin Curtsinger, a former Army soldier struggling with PTSD, was 25, penniless, down on himself and unable to find work in Kentucky. We gave him a job right away. He said of us: “They didn’t give me a handout. They gave me something much better – a job.”
Garold Mattingly was another former soldier dealing with PTSD. He struggled to hold onto jobs, get through college, and provide for his wife and baby son in North Carolina. We offered him work immediately as well. He said: “I came back from war and just couldn’t juggle everything. It was really hard for me. VSO gave me a chance to get my life back together.”
And then there was Robert Hughes, 54, who for two years lived in the woods of Virginia, fighting off frostbite in the winter and snakes in the summer. He had just about given up on life when he came upon our table outside a pharmacy. We paid for him to take a bus to our Veterans New Life Haven housing facility in Fort Lauderdale. There, VSO gave him a room and fundraising job and access to social services.
We have many more stories like this to share throughout our website. Please take a moment to read them and “share” them with your network on social media. We’re proud of our work and grateful that we have a chance to make a difference in the lives of so many veterans.
Richard VanHouten is the founder and CEO of Veterans Support Organization.