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.

Friday, 30 October 2020

US Army Vet Suffers Setback after Setback, Until …

Matthew had served his country in the Army where he drove a tank. But once he left the military, his life became a cycle of being homeless, out of work, and in poor health. Matthew feels blessed that Catholic Charities was able to help him stop the cycle and start anew.

His post-military life was hard, both physically and mentally. He would move from state to state in search of work and a decent place to live. He’d make it work for a while, then he’d lose his job or another challenge would set him back, and he’d move again looking for work.

During his time in California, he developed a limp. After numerous doctor visits, MRIs, and other tests, he was finally given a diagnosis, and not the one he expected. Matthew had Multiple Sclerosis. From there, life got even tougher.

He suffered additional setbacks to his health, such as a severe hernia. He moved from place to place trying to find sufficient medical help to alleviate his suffering. During one such move back to Arizona, hiked the Arizona Trail on his way to Sedona. “I hopped on, went south, walked,” Matthew said. It was difficult for me to walk, especially with 60 pounds of supplies on my back. I would do a mile or two a day, pitch a tent, sleep, then do it again the next day. After a while it got a little bit better, I was able to make it a little farther each day.”

After many days of walking and some more bad luck trying to find a place to settle down and permanent work, he ended up in Prescott. He was paying $400 a week, which he couldn’t really afford living on Social Security. In desperation, he searched through the phone book and asked around about where he could find help. That’s where Catholic Charities came along.

A neighbor at his motel told him about a friend of his who’s husband had ALS and had gotten assistance from Catholic Charities. That’s all Matthew needed to hear. He made the phone call that changed his life.

He met with Jacob and Autumn from Catholic Charities who got him into the Veterans’ Program where they helped him find a place to live and provided temporary financial assistance to get him on a solid path to self-sustainability. They also helped him get the most out of his VA and other federal benefits and provided the type of support he had been seeking for a long time. When he would visit the office in Prescott, he would pick up a loaf of bread and a few other food items to help him get by without needing food stamps. He was a proud man and always wanted to be able to help himself.

After a few months of being in a stable, safe place to live and getting enough benefits to make ends meet, he finally told Jacob and Autumn that it was time for them to go help someone else. He would be OK. “At that time, I told them that I was pretty stable now. I’ve got Social Security and then retirement kicked in when I turned 62. I can pretty much handle things for now,” he said.

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