Many Americans take their freedom for granted. We have been well protected by our great nation’s armed forces that we so often don’t even realize just how blessed we are to be in these UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
This week’s Case of the Week will help you to better understand the value of freedom, defined as “not being imprisoned, independence, self-determination . . .”
Local Prison Helps Veterans’ Outreach with DONATION
Most of us can only imagine what it would be like to end up in PRISON…not jail…but PRISON! I think of a place that is dark, dungy, cruel, and dangerous like Sing Sing, Alcatraz, Folsom, and San Quentin. You hear those names in song, movies, and books all of the time.
So, with those images in mind, I’d like to share a recent experience we had. A local prison’s Recreational Coordinator reached out to us via our website. The North East Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC) of Youngstown, was interested in making a donation to our organization. The recently formed Inmate Veterans Group holds fundraisers during the year and wanted to make Veterans’ Outreach their organization to donate the proceeds to.
I had no idea that inmates had fundraisers. We were invited to the prison to meet the group and accept their first donation. It is a MEDIUM Security Prison with a capacity of 2,100 inmates! The visit was scheduled late in April 2018. We didn’t know what to expect, but were grateful to be chosen and interested in learning more about the group.
We arrived a little early, had no idea of how to enter, what gate to try, and so on. We saw some others entering and just sort of followed. After entering a couple of gates, we went through the security check point where we even had to leave our phones and smart watches behind! We were impressed with the level of security protocols, and the politeness of everyone.
We were cordially met by Mr. Colucci, the Recreation Coordinator. He led us through a couple more halls/doors until we ended up in a room with about 20 people in it. It was what I would call a visiting room. The inmates were dressed in blue scrubs and were sitting around the room at various tables. Mr. Colucci and Counselor Silvernail introduced us and then asked us to tell everyone about Veterans’ Outreach.
After we talked about how we help veterans in need, we fielded some questions. I have to say that the group was very respectful and interested in what we had to say. Not at all what we would have imagined.
One of the questions was, “How can we further help your charity?” I said, “Well…we always can use some volunteers!”
Then everyone put their hands up waving in the air and one of the officials said that I am sure that you can get another 2,000 volunteers from here if they were allowed!!! We had allot of chuckling over my offering!
Some of the inmates said that they would like to keep on helping whatever way they could. Their time in there can be best used in helping others, especially the vets. We learned that some of the inmate group are very artistic and were trying to think of ways to use that talent to benefit local veterans. We discussed briefly a plan where they could create items that could be sold for additional donations to continue the MISSION. It would be a way for them to give more of themselves to the community’s veterans!
The check that was presented was for $666 and some odd change…! I asked, “Couldn’t you add a few cents to get it to $667?” He thought about it, but that wouldn’t be fair! We had a couple of photos taken.
We met with the Warden, Mr. LaRose, an ARMY Veteran. He is a great individual with a good grasp on the humanity that he was responsible for. Firm, fair, compassionate, but ready for anything is the way we perceived him.
It was a bittersweet experience, looking at those men, not knowing what they had done to be there now, but also realizing that they made a series of poor choices that led to life behind bars. You don’t quite get what that means until you see it for yourself and we were only there for a short time.
I think that young people should be required to visit a prison, talk with inmates, and really get an idea of just what it means to be incarcerated! I think it would yield a smaller population in the prisons. Perhaps they would place a higher value on FREEDOM, paid for by our nations armed forces. 
We would like to add that the prison was spotless and all of the inmates and the employees were cordial and ingratiating. We especially applaud Mr. Colucci and Counselor Silvernail for reaching out to us and allowing us to be a conduit of veterans helping veterans, even in this type of circumstance.
They are already planning the next event, to be held in August of this year. 
John Ely, President of Veterans’ Outreach

Limits Fret Veteran in Need

Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Hartselle, AL office written by our EC, Mike Johnson. Recently we had a veteran come in for assistance for his mortgage payment, it was apparent that he was at his wits end and did not know what to do.  He explained that he had been to multiple

Hope for a Veteran in Need

Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Grayson, KY office written by our RM, Andy McKee. A couple weeks ago I received a call from a Veteran in the Lexington, KY area who was in an extremely unique situation and in desperate need of assistance. At the time, we weren’t able to assist with

Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Sarasota, FL office written by our RM, Bob Graham.
I recently received a call from a veteran’s wife, saying her husband was in terrible shape. He has to have constant care as he’s awaiting a liver transplant, perhaps requiring a kidney transplant as well. 
Right now he’s in particularly bad shape as he’s fighting pneumonia. With all the medical and allied expenses they’ve fallen behind on utility and other bills, and are desperate for assistance. 
As the needs are large I put together a group of several agencies to share the “rescue” and they were really grateful. We are so happy we could help.
Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Grayson, KY office written by our RM, Andy McKee.
A few weeks ago, I was en route to speak at an area Lawrenceburg food pantry regarding the services we offer here at Veterans’ Outreach. Since I was out of the main office, I had the office phone forwarded to my cell phone. 
I received a call from the Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville, KY from a social worker looking for assistance for a Veteran on their floor. This Veteran had successfully completed his inpatient psychiatric program and needed a way to get back home to Arkansas to be reunited with his children and family he hasn’t seen in over a year; he needed to be with a loving, stable support system to ensure his continued mental health progress. 
I took their information to see what we could do, and within ten minutes received another call from a Veteran in need in the Louisville area. I worked a game plan together with our corporate office in order to assist both Veterans in need. After my scheduled meeting at Open Hands Food Pantry in Lawrenceburg, I drove to the Robley Rex VAMC in Louisville to meet with both the social worker and the other Veteran who called seeking assistance whom I had instructed to meet me in the same lobby to take both requests at the same time. 
Fortunately, we were able to purchase a bus ticket for the Veteran needing to get back to Arkansas AND able to provide assistance to the other Veteran seeking assistance with her electric bill. We are so happy we could help these veterans in need!
William Gordon Ely was born in Gallipolis, Ohio where he worked on the family farm when he was just 8 years old…even driving a tractor! One day he was on a bicycle riding on his country road when a couple of men waived him down in their Model T! The men introduced themselves as Mr. Ford and Mr. Firestone! They were lost and asked for directions to Columbus! William (Bill) didn’t know who the men were until later. He was born with a photographic memory as well and thought that they were dressed pretty nice!
Dad’s brush with history didn’t stop there…He later fared the DEPRESSION with his family, though he lost his big brother John to a drowning accident, he joined the service at 17…lying about his age!
He was finally stationed at Pearl Harbor after touring the South Pacific and wrote to his mom that he found Paradise, He was even bragging about catching a 40-pound octopus and having a barbecue with the guys out on the beach! 
Just before 8 AM on December 7, 1941, my DAD, Bill, was on the porch of the barracks because of an upset stomach from cucumber salad the night before, which saved his life! The airfields were the first attacked and over 200 men were lost there. Bill was a Paramedic so he was racing off in his ambulance truck just trying to get away from the Zeros which were strafing him to the left and right of him. The attack lasted a total of 90 minutes and left 2,400 dead and 1,100 wounded.
My dad tended to as many wounded as he could while he was wounded as well. One critically wounded man my dad administered blood and glucose constantly, who was badly burned. He would change his bandages and he even would sleep with the man to keep him warm so as he wouldn’t go into shock. That man’s mom wrote a letter to my dad thanking him for saving her son’s life after he came home to further his recovery. The Letter was shown to the Red Cross and they started a Blood Drive using the importance of that story.
My DAD went on to be a founder of the “Pearl Harbor Survivors” Columbus Chapter, and co-founder of 8 other chapters. He left in his will a major donation to the MOTT’S Military Museum to help with the expansion of the new wing where his Pearl Harbor Coat/Memorabilia is on display and was constantly petitioning the state to rename Highway 75 to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway!
My DAD, William Gordon Ely, lived his life serving and honoring his country…his fellow man! “Lest We Forget”! Dad… you are part of HISTORY!
Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Sarasota, FL office written by our regional manager, Bob Graham.
A veteran came in to see us last week. He and his wife are new parents of a precious baby boy. Due to his time in the service, he has PTSD. The VA has supported his housing, but cannot cover his 2-month power bill. This overdue power bill could very well get him evicted from his home because VA rules include eviction if utilities are cut off for non-payment. Thankfully he came to us. We were able to step in, pay the bill, and gave this new family the assurance of a roof over their heads. We are happy to help. 
A post 9/11 veteran suffering from PTSD and seizures came to our office with his therapy dog, Sheba. Sheba is a beautiful Rottweiler, perfectly behaved and watches over her veteran like a mother watches over her newborn child.
The veteran came to us because of a problem with his water, it was shut off. His water bill had been consistent for a long time and was paid regularly. Then in February, the consumption spiked and ran the bill much higher than the veterans budget allowed. He wasn’t able to strike a deal with the water company since he doesn’t own the property. Our Services Director, Bob Julian, was able to contact the water company and speak to the right person. He made a pledge to pay a much lesser amount and they agreed to turn the water on immediately.
Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Hartselle, AL office.
On Tuesday we had an amputee veteran contact us that needed assistance to build a wheelchair ramp at his house. This man was very upbeat about his situation and said that the Birmingham VA was responsible for saving his life and was deeply grateful for their services. The VA saw a problem that could have been fatal to him and was missed by some of the local hospitals. 
While talking to him he stated that he had written Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas about their motorized chairs that they have for their customers, his idea to them was to have a certain amount of chairs cordoned off strictly for the use of veterans in need. 
He did say that he had some positive feedback from them, so I told him that I would use our platform to see if we could help, so if people out there read this please bring this idea up to the local store managers and if you are inclined to send a nice note to corporate. 
Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Hartselle, AL office.
Sadly, last week one of our workers had his money jar and his table stolen at one of our stores we fundraise at. Frantic and bewildered, our rep didn’t know what to do fearing that the thief may be armed. Thankfully, the manager of the store saw the incident happen. He immediately gave chase and did retrieve our property. We are so thankful for his bravery. 
I guess my point is that when something negative happens to us, more often than not there is something positive to counteract the negativity. A lot of times it is difficult to find the positives, but in this case, the store manager showed that he cared by instantly trying and succeeding to get our items back. Thank you sir.