Catholic Charities Veteran Services helps veterans and their families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness find stable housing and provides ongoing case management that includes financial planning, assistance applying for VA benefits, emergency assistance and more.

Thursday, 31 August 2023

Navy Veteran Leads a Fulfilling Life After Homelessness and Addiction

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Tammy had a decorated career in the U.S. Navy. From 1994-1998, she was a damage controlman stationed in Norfolk, Va.

Tammy had the important role of working on a submarine tender, ensuring submarines received critical supplies and support. Following that, Tammy was part of the first female crew to be stationed on a carrier during a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea.

After her military service, Tammy got married and remained in Virginia working as a government contractor. When she and her partner divorced, Tammy found herself in Missouri working for a friend to get by. Tammy never could have imagined what would develop over the next decade.

Turning to Drugs and Alcohol

Before long, Tammy was using drugs and alcohol recreationally.

“I was making bad decisions and doing a lot of bad things there,” she said.

Recreational substance use and drinking progressed to addiction, and Tammy was eventually homeless. In early 2020, she had an opportunity to come to Arizona and be closer to her dad in Prescott. Tammy reluctantly made the move.

Starting Over in a New State

Once she arrived in Prescott, Tammy was living in a hotel with the help of a local nonprofit and looking for employment. She found a job with a cleaning company, but the strenuous work left her with an injured back. Following that, Tammy worked for the VA, but it didn’t last long either.

Tammy was then hired by a car dealership but kept getting sick with COVID and eventually lost that job. Tammy found herself on the verge of homelessness again, unable to afford rent, sick and unemployed.

“I had been making $15 an hour, but it was barely enough to get by, yet I didn’t qualify for assistance programs because that was above the minimum income threshold,” shares Tammy. “I lost my job, and everything came to a screeching halt. That’s when I found Catholic Charities.”

Getting Support from Catholic Charities Veterans Services

Tammy was aware of Catholic Charities because of its reputation among Veterans as a place to find help. Before long, Tammy connected with her case manager who walked her through the program and resources that could help her. Catholic Charities Veterans Services was able to pay Tammy’s past due rent and assist with additional rent until she found new employment.

“At this time, I was already interviewing for a job, so we were hopeful that employment was coming. Catholic Charities made sure I wasn’t struggling figuring out how to pay rent until then,” said Tammy.

Tammy shares that her case manager went above and beyond in offering support and encouragement, filling up her gas tank at one point and offering a box of food pantry items. She also received assistance applying for food stamps which benefited her tremendously.

Thriving in a New Home and Job

Tammy has successfully exited the Veterans Services program and now lives at an apartment provided by a local Catholic Charities partner. She landed a job at Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center and loves her position registering and processing insurance for patients who are going into the lab.

“My pay is a lot better. There are still times when I have to watch my money, but I make enough that I can actually save rather than worrying about paying rent or where the next meal is coming from,” said Tammy.

When she reflects on how far she’s come over the past several years, Tammy shares that coming to Arizona is one of the best things she’s ever done. Although her dad passed not long after she moved, Tammy plans on staying for a long time. “I just want to focus on getting settled into my job and do the best I can to save money and move forward, not ever go back.”

Catholic Charities is committed to helping veterans experiencing homelessness in Central and Northern Arizona. To join the No Longer Homeless campaign and support our Veterans, please contact a member of our Philanthropy Team at 602-650-4820 or email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information, please visit our website.


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Chelsea Buck-Leilich

Chelsea Buck-Leilich is the Marketing and Philanthropy Specialist for Catholic Charities Northern Arizona region. Chelsea has nearly 15 years of experience working with non-profit organizations. Since earning a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013, Chelsea has worked primarily in marketing and fundraising. Chelsea has also completed the Harvard Business School Club of San Diego’s Not for Profit Management course.


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