Service Member Stories

These stories provide a brief glimpse into what is taking place in the lives of our clients every day. Please help us continue our mission to help them.


$450—the Difference between Future or Flounder—A Jobs Assistance Success Story

Summary: Alex honorably served his country in the US Army from 2002 – 2005, including a combat tour in Iraq. Fast-forward to 2011, and this honorably discharged veteran, a college graduate, found himself squarely amongst the ranks of the newly unemployed.

Situation: After nearly depleting his savings in a move from California to Texas (where he believed his employment prospects would improve), Alex was robbed, and left with little more than his clothes and $100 in cash. Ironically, it was at this time that Alex learned he had been accepted into a work-study program back in California—a program specifically designed for veterans who have returned to school full-time. Alex is endeavoring to obtain his second college degree—in Hospital Administration—through an online program at Colorado Technical University. Left with no money for the move back to California, Alex contacted USA Cares Jobs for Vets team member, David Keplinger.

Action: David and Jobs for Vets provided gas cards for the 1,300-plus mile trip, along with provisions for food and hotel accommodations along the way. In total, $450 made all the difference in the world to this veteran, and paved the way to a new and successful future.

Unfortunately Alex is not unique—his story and those who make up the nearly 20% of unemployed veterans prompted USA Cares to form its newest program, Jobs for Vets. Jobs for Vets connects veterans to life-long employment opportunities, but of equal importance, removes financial roadblocks to employment opportunities. Learn more about USA Cares Jobs for Vets program.

Hopeless Holiday Turns Merrier and Brighter

Summary: It’s two weeks before Christmas and a wounded Iraq veteran with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart wonders where to turn for help. He is losing the home he shares with his two daughters in North Carolina and the power and phone bills are dangerously behind.

Situation: John, a former Special Forces soldier serving in Iraq, was severely injured by a booby trap that sent 400 volts through his body. Medevaced, John was left with a myriad of injuries including PTSD, COPD, cancer, cervical spine injuries and post concussive headaches. On top of all this, he also sustained gunshot wounds. John is rated by the Veterans Administration as 100% disabled and was doing okay until his spouse left him and the girls—the reduced income began to eat away at his ability to maintain the home.

Through a fortunate series of events involving a general officer and a wonderful ex-naval officer, John’s plight caught the attention of USA Cares and a local North Carolina charity. Working together, the two organizations assessed the situation. John’s lender refused to modify his mortgage loan—ironically ending the refusal letter with “thanks for banking with us”.

Action: USA Cares stepped in and began working with John to sort out his immediate needs. Over $4,000 went to to bring the mortgage current, as well as payments to insurance and utility companies. In all, USA Cares assisted John and his daughters with over $5,000 in direct financial support. Attorney’s fees and medical bills for his daughter still need attention, and other organizations are stepping up to assist.

Christmas 2010 arrived looking a whole lot better than it had just a few weeks earlier. John’s struggles continue—both with his disabilities and his finances—but he has friends who care. His heroic and selfless service should merit something better than a foreclosure notice.

Leaving Civilian Job Means Leaving Paycheck

Summary: A twice-deployed Army Reserve service member was determined to seek treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), but needed help with the bills while he sought medical care.

Situation: The service member served two tours of duty in Iraq. During the second he survived a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack that left him unconscious with TBI and later, PTSD.

Medically discharged from service, this veteran left his civilian job to receive much needed in-patient treatment that would greatly benefit his wife and two young children, along with himself. The family turned USA Cares for help filling the financial gaps.

Action: USA Cares responded swiftly to the family’s request for help with grants that provided for two months’ worth of household expenses including rent, car payment, utilities and food assistance. In all, USA Cares granted the family over $3,000 in assistance.

Client Hit with $7,000 Shipping Charge

Summary: Through no fault of his own, a service member found himself falling behind on his families’ household bills.

Situation: The active duty Army member and his family were issued a “permanent change of station” or PCS, during which his 2,500 lbs of gear would be shipped at the Army’s expense. But due to an administrative error that has yet to be corrected, the service member was charged for the shipping—$7,000—which is currently being garnished from his wages. While working to clear up the error and be reimbursed the garnishment, he found himself falling behind on the bills.

The service member, who is a married father of three, contacted USA Cares for relief.

Action: USA Cares responded quickly to the father’s request for assistance with $500 in grants that provided for three weeks of food and brought the phone bill current.

Medical Retirement Leaves Family Facing Financial Hardship

Summary: A twice-deployed Army veteran had fallen behind on his rent and utility bills. Veterans Administration (VA) compensation was slow to arrive, and the service member found himself in financial straits.

Situation: After two deployments to Iraq, the married father of five children returned stateside with a Purple Heart and diagnoses of both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and degenerative arthritis. After being medically retired by the Army, the veteran was caught off-guard by the length of time it took to receive his VA benefits and contacted USA Cares for assistance.

Action: USA Cares responded swiftly to this families’ request for help and granted $1,720 that provided for two months of rent and utility service.

Warrior Treatment Today in Action

Summary: After leaving his civilian job for in-patient post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment, an Army reservist needed help paying his rent, utilities and car payment.

Situation: The active duty service member, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) returned home with PTSD that culminated in a recent suicide attempt. The married father of one child was placed on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by his employer, but has exhausted his vacation and sick pay. Facing serious delinquencies in his families’ rent, utility and car payments, the service member contacted USA Cares for help.

Action: USA Cares reacted swiftly to the families’ request for assistance—with grants totaling $1,588. We hope these funds provide peace of mind and security to the service member and his family while he receives treatment that will help secure their future.

Blood Condition Hospitalizes Veteran

Summary: An Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) veteran fell behind on her household bills after being hospitalized. The former service member was facing utility shut-off and eviction.

Situation: This single mother of one child was medically discharged from the Army after being diagnosed with a service-related skin condition and blood clotting disorder. Although pending a 100% unemployability rating by the Veteran’s Administration (VA), the hospital stay was unpaid. After falling two months behind on both rent and utilities, the veteran contacted USA Cares for assistance.

Action: Upon learning of her situation, the veteran’s landlord agreed to work with her as she catches up on rent. USA Cares provided grants totaling $1,094 that brought the families’ electric and phone bills current.

Dark Days Looming

Summary: An active member of the Army National Guard, twice deployed to Iraq, found himself and his family facing utility shut-off.

Situation: After serving his country proudly during two tours of duty in the Middle East, this married father of two teenage children returned stateside to a job that was no longer his. Forced to file for unemployment, the family came up short between unemployment compensation and their monthly bills. Facing utility shut-off, the service member contacted USA Cares for assistance.

Action: USA Cares responded immediately to this families’ request for help, providing a grant of $500 that kept the lights turned on. More good news arrived in the way of a new job for the National Guard member, who recently began training.

Invisible Wounds Cost Veteran His Job

Summary: An Iraq war veteran had fallen behind on his car payment. He found himself facing a tough choice between paying the bills and providing food for his family of five.

Situation: The service member, who has been medically-discharged from Army service, was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost several soldiers in his charge. Having recovered from his physical injuries, the veteran continues to confront the lingering effects of war and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Upon returning stateside he found employment with the Veteran’s Administration (VA), but eventually was forced to resign due to a PTSD-related incident and has attended in-patient treatment. While waiting for an increase in his VA compensation, the married father of three fell behind on his car payment, needed temporary help with the family grocery bill and contacted USA Cares for help.

Action: USA Cares responded quickly to this Iraqi-war veteran and his families’ request for assistance—granting $1,260. This money brought the car payment current and put food on the table for one month.

Family Faces Choice—Pay Utilities or Rent

Summary: An Army veteran was severely injured while serving his country overseas in Iraq and has been discharged from military service. After falling behind on the rent, the service member contacted USA Cares for assistance.

Situation: The soldier was severely hurt in an accident involving a truck rollover that broke his collar bone and wrist, injured his back and lung and resulted in the removal of his spleen. He also suffers from the “invisible” wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), compounded by the tragic loss his youngest child at age thirteen months. The married service member has two other young children, twins.

Action: USA Cares responded quickly to their request for assistance, and provided a $600 grant that brought the families’ rent current.

After Long Recovery Resilient Family is Back on the Road

Summary: A Purple Heart recipient who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan needed new tires for the family vehicle. Short on cash for such a large expense, the family turned to USA Cares for assistance.

Situation: The soldier lost his left hand in Afghanistan when a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) hit his vehicle. He further sustained burns to his face and neck and shrapnel injuries on his entire left side. After being MedEvaced to Landsthul Regional Medical Center in Germany, the service member was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where his family joined him during his year-long recovery. Married, the soldier is a father to three young children—the youngest of whom was born with a birth defect requiring surgery—surgery that had to be delayed while his father recovered.

Remarkably, this brave father still serves as an active duty member of the Army, working directly with other wounded soldiers helping them transition back to military service or civilian life. The family contacted USA Cares when the family vehicle, which has been specially modified for the service member’s use, was in need of new tires.

Action: USA Cares granted the family $853, sending the family safely on the road.

Need Persists–Five Months After Attack

Summary: A soldier was shot three times at Ft. Hood on November 5, 2009. The soldier sustained wounds to his left hand, elbow and hip. Five months later, he is still recovering from his injuries, faces an additional surgery and is expected to spend the next year in rehab.

Situation: Following the attack, USA Cares provided for travel and food for the soldier’s immediate family. With the recent realization that his convalescence would be considerably longer than originally expected, the soldier contacted us again, requesting travel assistance for himself and his wife.

Action: USA Cares responded swiftly to the request from this still-recovering service member, so that he and his spouse could travel home to recover personal items before returning for what hopefully is his final surgery. In total, USA Cares has granted the family $2,122 which has provided for air travel and food assistance. We wish him and his family the best luck with his recovery.

IED Leaves Scars Visible and Unseen

Summary: An Iraqi war veteran needed help with his household expenses while he sought in-patient treatment for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Situation: After serving in Iraq for more than a year and a half, the Army service member returned stateside with facial wounds caused by shrapnel from an IED (improvised explosive device), along with the non-visible scars left by PTSD. After being discharged from military service, the veteran sought employment in the civilian world. However, outbursts caused by PTSD left this single father of two young children, ages three and two, unable to hold on to a job. USA Cares was contacted for help.

Action: USA Cares reacted quickly to this war veteran’s request—responding with $1,600 in grant money that will pay for two months of rent and food for his children while he takes the opportunity to heal from his wounds from PTSD.

On Recovery Road

Summary: A service member needed financial assistance to repair the family car while receiving care in WTU (warrior transition unit).

Situation: After serving his country during two tours of duty in Iraq, the active duty Army service member came home with a diagnosis of PTSD and a pending diagnosis of TBI (traumatic brain injury). Married with a 10-year old child, his spouse had been unemployed for a year when their vehicle broke down. The family did not have the funds to cover the needed repairs and contacted USA Cares for help.

Action: USA Cares responded to the families’ request for assistance with a grant of $715. We hope the service member and his family find themselves back on the road soon.

About Warrior Transition Units
In 2007, 35 WTU’s were created at Army installations across the US to “fill a gap in support for wounded soldiers”. These wounded service members usually require six months of care—care that includes medical, rehabilitative and mental resource—provided and coordinated under one roof. Learn more about WTU.

Missouri Airman Cleared for Recovery

Summary: A twice-deployed Missouri Airman and his family needed help with household bills while he sought in-patient treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Situation: The married father of three served our country in Iraq as an active Air Force member during Desert Storm and with the Air National Guard under Operation Iraqi Freedom. Returning from his second deployment with the unseen injuries of PTSD, he was unable to hold on to his civilian job. Medically retired from military service, his challenges at home were further compounded by an administrative mistake that temporarily reduced his compensation by 75%.

Action: USA Cares responded rapidly to a request for assistance for the retired Airman and his family. After confirming that his full compensation would be reinstated, USA Cares granted the family $1,918, providing for the mortgage, utilities, car payment and food –clearing the way for this Airman to receive the treatment he is due.

Soldier Returns to Empty Home and Bank Account

Summary: A soldier returned home from service in Iraq to find that his spouse had left the home and had stopped paying the mortgage and water bill and wiped out their bank account.

Situation: The newly single soldier was medically discharged after serving twice in Iraq and sustaining injuries, both visible and unseen, during his second tour. Currently residing in an in-patient program, the service member is receiving treatment for both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse disorder (SUD).

Action: When this client first contacted USA Cares, his home was dangerously close to foreclosure. After ensuring that he has the ability to pay his mortgage and other expenses going forward, USA Cares granted the service member $6,691 bringing both his house payment and water bill current. Recovery from PTSD and SUD would be very difficult for a person losing his home. We hope this service member is able to move ahead with his life with peace and security.

Substance abuse disorders (SUD)
are recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a prevalent and at times lethal affliction among veterans. They often go hand-in-hand with PTSD as a means of “self-medication”. Learn more about SUD’s.

Second Household Brings Financial Hardship to Families’ Door

Summary: After completion of in-patient treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an Army National Guard member was living in housing away from his family. The court-ordered separation, which created two households, put a financial burden on the family and they found themselves facing shut-off of their gas and electric.

Situation: The married father of four children, ages 14, 13, 11 and 4, has been deployed twice. Although he did not sustain any physical wounds during either deployment, he returned stateside with the unseen injuries of PTSD, which went untreated for more than a year. After threatening his life in front of his family, the court intervened and determined that the soldier could not return home until Social Services felt he was no longer a danger to himself or wife and children.

Action: USA Cares responded quickly to a request for assistance with their past-due utility bills, granted the family $600 and prevented shut-off. We hope that the relief of this financial burden allows the soldier a full recovery so that he may return, healed, to his family.

Financial Hardships Stand in Way of Treatment

Summary: A discharged soldier needed treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Following a comprehensive mental health screen by the Veteran’s Administration (VA), the Army veteran was directed to seek in-patient psychiatric treatment. This forced absence from work created a financial hardship for the family and was preventing him from seeking treatment necessary to successfully move forward with his life.

Situation: The married father of three young children, who served his country in Iraq, had secured a full-time position that was waiting for him upon completion of his treatment. Further, he was pending an increase in his VA disability benefits.

Action: USA Cares responded quickly to the families’ request for assistance. After ensuring they could sustain themselves on the soldier’s future income, USA Cares granted the family $1,360.75. Knowing that his wife and children were secure in their home during his absence—with the rent paid, car payment made and the utilities handled, allowed this veteran the peace of mind crucial to a full recovery.

Cluster Headaches Sidetrack Service Member

Summary: An Army National Guard service member was deployed to Iraq in October of 2006 and served his country for a year and a half. Upon return, the Bronze Star recipient was treated for battle injuries that included a fractured ankle, hernia and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Situation: Ironically, the service-related injury causing this guardsman the greatest challenge was sustained over ten years ago—a concussion that triggers on-going cluster headaches. Rare, and affecting approximately 1% of the population, cluster headaches can reoccur over several weeks followed by weeks, months and even years, as with this Army Guardsman, of headache-free periods. They are also referred to as “alarm clock” headaches, as they tend to reoccur at regular intervals and at the same time each day.

“Cluster headache is probably the worst pain that humans experience. I know that’s quite a strong remark to make, but if you ask a cluster headache patient if they’ve had a worse experience, they’ll universally say they haven’t. Women with cluster headache will tell you that an attack is worse than giving birth.” —Dr. Peter Goadsby, Professor of Clinical Neurology, University College, London

The married father of a six-year old has suffered with cluster headaches every two years over the past decade, with episodes lasting several weeks. The most recent episode caused the service member to miss six weeks of work and fall behind on the rent.

Action: The family requested assistance from USA Cares to catch up from December and pay January’s rent in full. After determining that the service member qualified under USA Cares grant guidelines, a Quality of Life grant in the amount of $950 was given to the family.

Soldier Moves to Rebuild Life

Summary: After serving in Iraq during the summer and fall months of 2009, an Army service member returned home to find his wife incarcerated and his daughter living in state protective custody.

Situation: The service member, who is currently activated with his local National Guard unit, has regained custody of his daughter, who is seven. He has moved into a new apartment and is endeavoring to rebuild their lives, which includes replacing all of the material possessions that his estranged wife lost while he served in the Middle East.

The service member requested $600.00 for the deposit on his and his daughter’s new home

Action: USA Cares provided a Quality of Life grant in the amount of $600.

Deployment Sets Off Domino Effect

Summary: An active Army member was deployed to Iraq last month, leaving behind a wife and two little ones, ages two and one.

Situation: The service member, having exhausted his yearly clothing allotment prior to deployment, used money earmarked for his December mortgage to pay for $400-worth of cold weather gear. Shortly after departure for the Middle East, his two-year old daughter was (and remains) hospitalized with serious infections affecting her lungs and kidneys. A special-needs child, she is back at the hospital for the ninth time with issues ranging from heart and lung conditions to surgery on her ears. The mother is unable to work as she is staying with her daughter at the hospital and has had to resort to leaving her one-year old baby with a neighbor. Fortunately, the service member’s mother is making plans to temporarily relocate and care for the younger child.

The family has requested $750 for their December mortgage payment in addition to $400, the cost of a round-trip plane ticket for the service member’s mother.

Action: USA Cares provided a Quality of Life grant for housing assistance in the amount of $750. We further reached out to Operation Home Front who covered the flight expense.

Reservist Attacked Prior to Deployment

Summary: While preparing for deployment on November 5, 2009, a military service member was attacked at the Soldier Readiness Center located in Fort Hood, Texas.

Situation: The married Army reservist was rushed to an area hospital after being shot six times. The Fort Hood Mobilization Family Assistance Center contacted USA Cares about providing financial help with travel and housing for the service member’s spouse, parents and brother.

Action: USA Cares responded with $6,400 from the Fort Hood Family Emergency Fund that paid for the families’ air travel and hotel costs. The reservist is still hospitalized and is recovering from his injuries.

USA Cares established the Fort Hood Family Emergency Fund in response to the tragic events that occurred on the base of the Army’s largest military installation in November. The fund, which serves to assist the immediate families of those wounded and killed, provides for travel, housing and meals.

A Family Reunited Begins Long Journey to Recovery

Summary: An activated member of the Army National guard was deployed to Afghanistan this past June. After suffering injuries during a grenade attack, the service member was med evac’d to Landstuhl, Germany before being flown back to an Army base in Texas for treatment.

Situation: The married father of two young children, ages nine and five, is scheduled to undergo back surgery later this month followed by an estimated two-year rehabilitation. Compounding his physical injuries are diagnoses of both traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also known as the invisible wounds of war.

The service member’s spouse and children, who live in a different part of the country, have rented a home in Texas to reunite the family and assist with rehabilitation. As the National Guard does not provide for this type of moving expense, the family contacted USA Cares for assistance.

Action: USA Cares provided a Quality of Life grant in the amount of $2,213.80 that covers U-Haul rental and gas for the trip.

VA Process Nearly Costs Service Member His Home

Summary: While serving in Iraq an Army service member was involved in an IED attack that resulted in his diagnosis of both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was subsequently medically retired at an initial VA rating of 80% that included no vocational rehabilitation or unemployability compensation.

Situation: The Army veteran who is single and has no children could not sufficiently cover his bills with his monthly benefits and began tapping into his savings to make ends meet. More than a year went by while he waited for his rating to be increased by the Veteran’s Administration (VA), and subsequently he depleted all of his savings. At that time he approached USA Cares for help, but we were unable to offer assistance due his inability to sustain himself on his income.

The service member is currently three months behind in his mortgage payment and has requested assistance from USA Cares for the second time. He recently received a 100% disability rating from the VA, along with unemployability compensation plus vocational rehabilitation benefits that leave him with a monthly surplus of more than $300. If his mortgage is brought current, the service member will be able to fully cover all of his monthly bills making him eligible for assistance under our grant guidelines.

Action: USA Cares provided a Housing Assistance grant in the amount of $5,307.88. His mortgage now current, this veteran who selflessly served his country for our security, can move forward knowing his home is now secure.

PTSD Triggered by Family Loss

Summary: A Marine’s vehicle was hit several times by IED’s while serving in Iraq. After returning stateside the service member completed her enlistment and was honorably discharged from military service. Although she was evaluated for post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), she has not been given a Veteran’s Administration (VA) rating since her discharge from the Marine Corps.

Situation: The wife and mother of a two-year old and infant child, who was employed as a corrections officer, has been plagued with nightmares and flashbacks since returning from Iraq. But the recent death of her brother-in-law triggered her PTSD and sent it spiraling out of control, causing her to be committed to a mental health facility. Her condition stabilized, the service member was transferred by the VA for in-patient PTSD treatment, where she is expected to remain until January.

The service member’s unemployment has run out and the family has fallen behind on all of their bills. As her rating from the VA is still being evaluated, she currently is receiving no military income.

Action: USA Cares provided a Warrior Treatment Today grant in the amount of $3,398.89—bringing the families’ rent, car payment, utilities, insurance and phone bills current. Further, it provided for repair on the family car.

Unseen Wounds Cost Veteran His Job

Summary: An honorably discharged Army veteran was deployed for a year to Iraq. While serving overseas the service member sustained physical injuries from shrapnel in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack—injuries for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. He also suffers from the invisible wounds of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Situation: The married father of two young children, 3 and 17 months, lost his job due to memory and anger issues associated with his TBI and PTSD diagnoses—he is currently receiving inpatient treatment. Unemployment has run out for the service member, leaving only his Veteran’s Administration (VA) income which has been rated at 70% (find out more about VA disability ratings here). He is being evaluated for an increase in his rating, and plans to find a new job after he completes his treatment—treatment that includes learning practical ways to work around his memory issues. He is hopeful that his newly learned skills will lower his frustration levels and help better adapt in a working environment.

Action: The family needed assistance to purchase food and bring their utilities current. The service member qualified for a USA Cares Quality of Life grant in the amount of $625.24.

Medical Challenges Are Not Always Faced on the Battlefield

Summary: An Army Reservist who was deployed to Iraq in late 2008 began noticing blood in his urine earlier this year. The unfortunate diagnosis turned out to be cancer of the liver and pancreas. Medically evacuated to one of the 35 WTU’s (Warrior Transition Unit) across the US, the service member is currently being treated at a local hospital near his Army base.

Situation: The single father is engaged and has physical custody of his three children, ages 13, 11 and 9. His fiancée has Power of Attorney, and cares for his children in their hometown —initially during the service member’s deployment and now while he receives medical treatment. Doctors are trying to stabilize the service member, transfer him to a facility in his hometown and begin chemotherapy—but have reported to his fiancée that they do not expect him to live past the next two months.

Upon receiving this prognosis, his children and fiancée travelled to the hospital on a Thursday, with plans to return home Sunday so the kids could get back to school the following week. The service member’s fiancée currently receives no income other than her drill pay and requested help with lodging and food during their stay.

Action: This particular case required immediate action. USA Cares provided the family with a Quality of Life grant of $403.45—$303.45 for lodging and $100.00 for food.

Service Member Gets Back on the Road

Summary: A medically retired Army service member was injured during an IED attack while deployed to Iraq in 2005. In addition to physical wounds to his knees and lower back, the Purple Heart recipient returned stateside with the invisible wounds caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Situation: After being medically retired at 70%, the service member’s pay was allotted for several months causing him to fall behind on his bills. Now that he is receiving his correct pay in addition to a full VA check, he can look forward to a surplus in his monthly budget. However, he is requesting assistance from USA Cares to bring his utility bill current and to pay for repairs on his vehicle. He wants to use his car to drive to and from his VA medical appointments as opposed to taking the train, which is ultimately more costly.

Action: The single father of three teenagers qualified for a USA Cares Quality of Life grant—$346.11 for utilities and $839.94 for a total assistance of $1,186.05.

Family Emergency Leaves Reservist Living Out of Car

Summary: An Army Reservist was transferred from Ft. Lewis, WA to Ft. Worth, TX on what the Army terms a “Compassionate Action Request”. A Compassionate Action Request can occur as a result of an unexpected or temporary personal hardship in the life of the service member. This particular hardship involved the service member’s only daughter, who was hospitalized after being stricken with brain cancer.

Situation: The service member left his job in September to be with his daughter during her treatment. Because of a delay in his transfer he had not received any of his Ft. Lewis drill pay and was not assigned lodging on post—as a result of the gap between receiving his wages and housing orders, the service member found himself living out of his car.

The service member requested assistance in paying for two weeks lodging at a hotel until his orders came through.

Action: USA Cares provided a Quality of Life grant in the amount of $632.80—getting him out of his car, into a hotel and providing much needed peace of mind during a terribly difficult period in this service member’s life.

Back from Deployment – Still Taking Hits

Summary: An Army National Guard member was deployed to Iraq for eighteen months where an IED attack returned him stateside with both traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Situation: As a result of his ongoing military obligations, the married father of two lost his job as a police officer. He was able to obtain full-time employment as a sheriff’s deputy, but was called up by his unit one year later. The service member’s six-month activation resulted in a loss of $700 per month in wages and he ultimately filed for bankruptcy in November of 2008.

A PTSD diagnosis coincided with the bankruptcy. The service member was compelled by his physician to take a leave of absence, thus compounding the families mounting financial woes. His house has fallen into foreclosure and the family is behind in several household accounts. The upshot to this gloomy scenario is that the service member, upon completion of his PTSD treatment, returned to employment in September of this year. His full-time wages are sufficient to cover all monthly obligations if the delinquent accounts can be brought current.

Action: The family qualified for both a USA Cares Housing Assistance grant of $7,500 and Quality of Life and Combat Injured grants of $2,466. The $9,966 in total grant funds brought their home out of foreclosure, accounts current and have paved the road to financial sustainability for this deserving service member and his family.

Transition to Civilian Life Not So Smooth

Summary: An Army service member who sustained service-related injuries to both his back and knees while serving, along with developing diabetes, was medically discharged in November, 2008.

Situation: The service member, who is not married and has no children, lived off his severance pay until he received his 60% VA disability in June of this year. At that time he had to begin repaying the severance, and found himself having a difficult time making ends meet. Fortunately, the service member recently obtained full-time work, but has not yet been paid. He needs assistance with his car payment, of which $900 is due, to avoid repossession.

Action: The service member is able to sustain himself on his full-time and disability wages, including his monthly $300 car payment. The finance company accepted a $600 Quality of Life grant from USA Cares to bring the service member’s account current.

Front Line in Iraq and First Responder at Home

Summary: An Army National Guard reservist is dealing with the affects of both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI)—the TBI resulting from an IED explosion during deployment to Iraq. The married father of two is currently being treated as an outpatient for the PTSD and TBI.

Situation: This former police officer who lost his job upon return from deployment was hired as a deputy sheriff only to be activated by his unit thirteen months later, resulting in a loss of $700 per month in wages. After falling behind on his mortgage and ultimately filing for bankruptcy, the service member missed one payment and was notified that all payments were due immediately or the house would go into foreclosure.

USA Cares negotiated with the lender and lowered the total payment owed by $2,500. Further, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation provided the family with credit counseling and assisted in reducing the loan interest rate. The service member’s full-time income is sufficient to cover all monthly expenses including the mortgage, as required under USA Cares grant guidelines.

Action: USA Cares provided an $8,798.50 Housing Assistance grant, saving the home from imminent foreclosure and ending the families’ prolonged agony

Multiple Medical Challenges Face Family

Summary: While on deployment an Army service member was on the receiving end of four separate IED attacks resulting in injury to his shoulder, groin and stomach. Along with future reconstructive surgery the service member is receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and sleep apnea, among other ailments.

Situation: The medically retired service member is currently being rated for benefits and will not receive any wages for a month or more. This married father of two was given two weeks to retire from service, providing little time to clear out his post home, find a new home and prepare his children for a new school.

Action: USA Cares provided the family with a $2,574.13 Quality of Life grant assisting with rent, vehicle payment and utilities including water, electric and phone

Service Member and Family Receive Help after Helping Themselves

Summary: A medically discharged Army service member is suffering with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), causing him to be frequently absent from his full-time job due to bouts of anxiety, treatment and hospitalization.

Situation: The married father of a toddler, whose spouse works to supplement their income, has fallen one month behind on his mortgage payment. When the family contacted us previously they did not meet grant guidelines—however, they have since worked to eliminate a portion of their debt, adding $300 to their monthly budget. This cushion will allow the family to make their monthly bills, even in the event the serviceman loses future hours at his job.

Action: The family received $1,098.84 in housing assistance, bringing their mortgage current.

Reservist Met with Stumbling Blocks upon Return

Summary: An active Army reservist returned home from deployment to find that his civilian job was no longer available. After finding work with a company that soon after moved out of town, the service member began working with his unit, located an hour and a half out of town.

Situation: During the service member’s four-month activation he only received a total of $2,000, and three months later is still working to recover the balance of his pay. The spouse of the father of four works full-time as a teacher, but her income is not sufficient to cover the families’ monthly expenses. The absence of the service member’s full-time job, coupled with money he is owed from activation has resulted in them facing action on their mortgage and disconnection of their phone service. The income the service member should receive plus his spouse’s income will leave the family with a monthly surplus of $861, making them eligible for help within our grant guidelines.

Action: USA Cares Quality of Life and Housing Assistance grants provided $5,002.48 to bring their mortgage current and keep the phone line connected.

PTSD Affects Both Service Member and His Enlisted Spouse

Summary: An Army service member sustained a gunshot wound to the thigh and survived nine separate explosion attacks while serving in Iraq. The service member, who currently resides in a halfway house while being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), additionally suffers from, among other things, traumatic brain injury (TBI) severe memory loss and auditory and visual hallucinations.

Situation: The married father of three is currently being evaluated by the VA, providing for no income at this time. His spouse is currently unable to contribute to the household budget, as she is suffering from PTSD of her own. After finding some success selling cars, the service member lost that position and has been unable to secure employment since due to the severity of his disorders.

Action: USA Cares was able to provide a Quality of Life grant to the family in the amount of $1,948.49 that provided for rent, utilities, car insurance and food.

Summary: An Army National Guardsman who served in Iraq from December of 2003 until March of 2005 was injured on multiple occasions. Upon returning home the SM was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and suffers with on-going physical injuries including shrapnel lodged in his right leg, back pain and hearing loss.

Situation: The Guardsman, who is single with no children, was laid off from his construction job in part due to multiple absences for the treatment of his PTSD and his being physically slow from injury. He suffers frequent memory loss and is easily agitated.

Action: Along with assistance from Easter Seals and the Brain Injury Association, USA Cares Quality of Life assistance provided $1,635.79 to bring rent, vehicle, insurance and utility payments current and help with food.

Summary: 23 year Army Reserve Veteran who had two tours of duty in Iraq was wounded as the tractor-trailer he was driving was hit by an IED and then came under small arms fire. The wounds he received spelled an end to his career and he came back home to Long Island, NY.

Situation: His Social Security and Disability benefits while under review were inadequate to keep his mortgage current on the home he shares with his wife and 14 year-old daughter. He was facing foreclosure and needed help. He also needed help to renovate the home because his disability prevented him from climbing steps, etc.

Action: Since then, USA Cares came through with $7,430 to save the home from foreclosure. Another national non-profit organization, Rebuilding Together, also helped with renovations to their home.

Summary: An Army National Guardsman who earned three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and pending Distinguished Service Award from his tour of duty in Iraq in 2005 was recently medically retired and in a financial jam. Three separate IED attacks resulted in a diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury in addition to gunshot wounds in his hand and leg.

Situation: The Guardsman’s wife is unable to work due to caring for their large family. Before his retirement, he was unable to fulfill normal unit activities and this resulted in loss of pay. Expenses traveling for medical care have further strapped their finances.

Action: USA Cares Combat Injured assistance of $926 brought their utilities and car payments up-to-date. The service member completed financial counseling and is able to keep the family home with assistance from USA Cares Housing Assistance in the amount of $5,176.

Summary: An Army Reservists was deployed to Afghanistan in ‘04 – ‘05. While he was away, his wife developed a neurological disease and was unable to work and maintain the family’s mortgage payment.

Situation: The family has been using their 401(k) proceeds to make ends meet but have fallen over three months behind in their mortgage payment. The wife’s health has improved considerably and she has resumed work. The family has worked with Consumer Credit Counseling Service and trimmed their monthly budget significantly.

Action: USA Cares has negotiated with the mortgage company to drop some late fees and freeze the interest on the ARM loan for five years. The USA Cares “virtual committee” concurred that a $7,200 payment from our Homeowners Preservation Foundation grant was necessary to get this family the peace of mind they deserve. In addition, the Service Member will be deployed again very soon. President Bush’s Soldiers, Sailors Relief Act will ensure that their interest rate goes to 6% upon his next deployment.

Summary: A National Guardsman who was deployed to Iraq had to take emergency leave to care for his four month old daughter who had an infection in her face that was making breathing difficult.

Situation: The medical facility was hours away by automobile and the family had to use their resources to be nearby. Unlike regular service members, National Guardsmen do not receive “separate rations” when on emergency leave so no additional monies were available to offset the expenses. The Ronald McDonald house was made available to them on the second week of their stay but the situation soon changed. The Mom had to take care of the baby in the hospital and dad’s leave expired and he had to return to the guard unit and to take care of their other children.

Action: USA Cares assisted with $388.80 to make a car payment that was now late and provided $100 for additional food and gas expenses.

Summary: An enemy sniper took careful aim and shot this soldier in the head while he was on watch tower duty. His Kevlar helmet (photo attached) saved his life but he now suffers from Post Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Ironically he was not awarded a Purple Heart at the time but paperwork is in process to investigate and remedy this if possible. He and his wife have three children ages seven, eight and nine.

Situation: The results of either PTSD or TBI (or both) have confronted this soldier and his family with difficulties that are hard for many to imagine unless they have seen the familiar patterns from a trained medical vantage point. After seven months of PTSD medical treatment in Iraq, his hearing loss and tinnitus worsened. Upon his return home, he could not hold a job and consequently his family’s financial situation deteriorated. They fell behind in their mortgage payment by over $10,000 and were very close to losing their home.

Action: A Social Worker at the Veterans Administration Hospital who was familiar with USA Cares called the case to our attention. As a result, USA Cares helped coordinate the involvement of four different organizations to save this military family’s home.

USA Cares in association with the Homeowners Preservation Fund provided help along with The American Legion and the Kentucky National Guard Trust Fund. Working in unison this group acquired a combined total of $10,494.94 to bring this Military Family’s mortgage up-to-date.

The Soldier and his family were also doing their part. His disability is being reviewed and is expected to go from 60% at present to 100%. His wife is now working for a good company. This should help them and their three children remain in their home.

Summary: This service member was deployed to Afghanistan and returned home one year later to find his two year old son needing an emergency liver transplant. Since then, finding affordable housing near proper medical facilities has caused severe hardships.

Situation: The son underwent liver transplant surgery in Philadelphia, PA while the family was living near the soldier’s duty station in up-state New York. The hospital would not release the son until the family could relocate near a medical facility with proper outpatient treatment capabilities.

Action: USA Cares contacted appropriate military and private sector personnel to assist in transferring and housing this family. The Army reacted quickly by granting a compassionate reassignment to a base near a qualified healthcare facility. USA Cares personnel spoke with the management of an off-post, gated community who expedited arrangements for the family’s move.

Due to months of extraordinary expenses, the Service Member was able to raise less than one fourth of the out-of-pocket costs necessary to complete the move. USA Cares stepped in and assisted with a check for $1,500 paid to the property management company. This assistance combined with normalization of the soldiers pay and his cost of living adjustments for the local area means that this military family should be OK.

Summary: An Army Reservist was laid off from his regular job after returning home. Due to paperwork issues his pay from Reserve drills was not received and he fell behind in his utility payment.

Situation: His is a single income family and they had requested assistance with other agencies and groups to no avail. Before assistance could be received, the gas was turned off.

At this point he turned to USA Cares requesting urgent attention.

Action: USA Cares validated the information and coordinated with four other agencies who shared in assisting this family. USA Cares issued a check for the remaining balance to the gas company to turn the gas back on. USA Cares also brought in the Salvation Army and a local Church to help this veteran get back onto his feet.