The First Place to Call

The First Place to Call Today’s Case of the Week was written by our Florida Regional Manager, Bob Graham. The landlord of an apartment complex extensively used by the VA housing program approached our Sarasota office. A veteran housed in the apartment cannot find a job and by terms of the agreement between the apartment

I, John Ely, composed this update for interested parties on October 28, 2018. 
Veterans’ Outreach is a nonprofit charitable organization based out of Liberty Township, Youngstown Ohio that serves veterans in need.  Our mission is to “help veterans with a hand up, not a handout!”  Veterans’ Outreach is setting the stage to be able to do that in a big way through the development of Heroes’ Passage!
 The project is to be located on 110 acres in Elliot and Carter Counties of Kentucky donated by Roger Hanshaw of Olive Hill.  The property is akin to a bowl, so when you are in the middle of it, you are comforted by the ridges around.  The lay of the land is a big part of how this project came to life.  A retreat for Veterans, where they can go and get their lives restored from the impact of war, drugs, alcohol, PTSD, or TBI.  I have personally witnessed tragic changes in my family with my father, brother, and now my son…a very big part of me knows that this will be the most crucial part of our charity’s MISSION.
 Thinking about how we could help vets more than we already are, with a chance to get their lives back again, I came up with the idea of getting back to basics.  I think of it as Basic Training 2, but it encompasses all aspects of a soldier’s personhood – their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, to help them to live and learn to deal with the past debilitating ravages and experience of war.  What causes a service member to take their own lives? There are 20+ a day that does this and that is their only perceived way out of their torture.  Heroes’ Passage could be the answer to not only reconstructing lives but saving them.
 Foremost, is to remove the encumbered soldier out of their neighborhood where they find themselves in a downward spiral.  A place that is remote but not threatening is the key.  The property is ideal to work with each individual and shy away from any mold for every participant since we all have different needs…weaknesses/strengths.
 Plans include the main building called the C.O.R.E (Council, Offices, Recreation, and Eatery), Farm (with Live Stock, Agriculture, and Agriculture applications), Equine Therapy Stable, Iron Man Courses…for able and disabled, a Church, Tribute Gardens, and 60 individual cabins.  Additional support buildings could be added as needed.  Residents will participate in the work of the development as much as they are able – a team working together for common goals – akin to the working relationships that have helped make our organization stable and successful.  Too much sitting around and thinking can be counterproductive.  Physical activity will help them to feel as if they belong there and to develop satisfaction from the simple things of life, then build from there.
 Progress and Update: The survey and drone photography is complete. Now the architectural development is underway.  It is the next crucial component, by the firm of Gilmore Designs from Cortland, Ohio. Bart Gilmore and Son Foster drove down to visit Veterans’ Outreach in Grayson, Kentucky.
 From there they drove to Olive Hill and encountered the lay of the land.
 Roger, Brandon Clark (KY Regional Manager) and I met up with them.  A 4 x 4 truck and a small old foreign make of a vehicle made the treacherous trek. The trail amounted to nothing less than a forgotten myriad of hazards including downed trees, jagged rocks, deep muddy ditches, thorny overgrowth, and just an exhilarating ride into the unknown!  We were thinking if we would be able to call in AAA if we had a problem? We found out, though, while we were at the bottom that our cell phone service was not available. So some praying was in order!
 For starters, the roads need to be put in and around the property for developers to come and go as they are summoned.  That will be the first physical development.  The character of the land, both represents Kentucky’s biodiversity and geologic variations. It is challenging, but Bart Gilmore was more than intrigued.  “It is just beautiful, and it is just very challenging but invigorating to be handed something like this to put together such a marvelous and worthwhile program to help our veterans in need,” Mr. Gilmore exclaimed.  “We just looked about everywhere on the property and couldn’t see any ugly”!
 Roger was so excited and said with a sigh, “I am so relieved and glad to see that finally there is some movement on the development of Heroes’ Passage.  We got to keep on the move with Heroes’ Passage.  Whatever it takes to make this dream a reality!  Every day’s development of this property and the promise and potential it holds, is like Christmas to me,” Roger finished.
 I was totally impressed with the way that the architect was popping along on the terrain, like a young teenager on his first visit to Disney World.
 I see it evolving into an energy filled the beautiful Shire, like no other.  You always hear about places that you can go for healings like those energy grids, sacred springs, and to ancient mountains. There are places all over the world that act as healing meccas and this retreat will be like no other.
 As they continued their recon, Gilmore shouted, “Over here the lake can go and next over there, close by, is a great area for the farm to be rebuilt”.  Then he further elaborated “then this space could be where the Tribute Gardens could go and the Chapel next to that development.”
It was thrilling to witness Bart’s excitement and amazing how he was able to visualize everything.  Gilmore quipped, “I can see it, I just can see it!”
 This is the third phase or third chapter of this event on developing such an amazing conceptual.  This architectural PHASE is a labyrinth of discovery and findings, a gestated hypothesis from a mature experience and those personal gut feelings.
 Gilmore offered to help with components for further development including other architectural firms, engineers, agencies, biologists, and geologists.
 The project is not being hastened or rushed.  There needs to be thought and design to best fit the mission in healing brave men and women that served our country.  Heroes’ Passage will offer them the best chance to reconstitute their lives.   This project could be the answer to help thousands of hurting veterans, specifically, the post 911 service men and women.  They volunteered their time and lives and now we need to make sure that they move forward, with interest!
 I believe it’s OK to take one small step at a time as long as it’s in the right direction!
Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Sarasota, FL office written by our Regional Manager, Bob Graham.
Recently, the VA asked Veterans’ Outreach to assist a veteran who is a single Mother. She has 4 children, all minors. She just lost her job and is very fearful of where the next paycheck is coming from. She cannot cover her water bill, so the VA sent her to us. 
Thankfully, we were able to cover her overdue water bill, avoiding shutdown scheduled for that day and she’s a happy mom!
Today’s Case of the Week comes from our corporate office in Liberty Township, Youngstown Ohio.
A View of the Parking Lot
I am the Executive Director of Veterans’ Outreach. My office is located on the front of our building facing the parking lot. As I work through my day, I often notice the many veterans coming in and leaving our building. They all enter a little differently, most dealing with their various physical problems and the pain associated. Their hands are empty other than the cane or walker or wheelchair. When they leave, they are loaded down with food, clothing, coats, shoes, and the like, not to mention whatever help they receive with their bills. 
Just this morning, a volunteer was organizing our donated clothing room to get ready for a big donation from a church in a couple of days. He told me about a box of infant clothing and should he take it to another agency. I told him “No, put it out, and someone with a baby will come in sometime.” 
Just now, as I was in a meeting with another agency, I saw a young veteran in the parking lot, his wife changing an infant on the seat of the rusted out car. We were able to give that young couple food, a whole box of infant clothing, and shoes for the parents too.
Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Sarasota Office, written by Jan Worrel, our Event Coordinator. 
A Veteran called in and needed assistance with his Duke Energy bill. He told me he had to have unexpected oral surgery and it took all his extra money for the month and he wasn’t able to pay his electric bill. He told me he hadn’t slept for the past week, worrying about his electric. Duke did give him an extension until October 11, but he still didn’t have the money to pay it. We were able to guarantee the bill. When we called to tell him it was guaranteed, he broke down and cried. Thanking us so much for what we do for veterans and his final words were ” I will be able to sleep tonight”
Today we want to share a “Case of the Week” from our corporate office in Liberty Township, Youngstown Ohio.
Education Paid Off
A veteran had an appointment to meet with our Service Director, Bob Julian. He had a big problem. He had a $20,000 school loan from the 1970’s that he has been deferring since then. He is disabled and receives $1,000 per month. He’s been heavily hassled in the recent months and really needed to get rid of the stress.
He visited various agencies hoping that they could help with the problem and no one was able to do anything. While he was here, Bob made some calls. One call was to the loan holder. Bob explained that the veteran only had $1,000 coming in monthly and that the loan would never be able to be satisfied, and that the veteran was suffering a hardship because of it.
The lady on the other end of the line was named HOPE and she was quite sympathetic and pulled a few strings or chains in this case to waive the entire debt and penalties.
The veteran left here with a spring in his step and the heavy hand of debt thrown aside.
This week’s Case of the Week comes from our Sarasota, FL office written by our Regional Manager, Bob Graham. 
One of the VA counselors contacted our Sarasota office to assist a veteran. He was to move into a VA supported home with a promised independent inspection on August 1 to ensure that as a move in date – as happens, that did not happen. 
To avoid the veteran being homeless, the case manager suggested the vet should move in anyhow. The landlord was agreeable but when the inspection did not happen until August 15, he felt that the veteran owed $250 for the unpaid time. He was amenable to the vet “working off” $150 of that amount but insistent on a $100 cash payment. 
Since the peculiarities of the VA system do not permit that kind of a payment, the case manager turned to Veterans’ Outreach as the only agency “nimble enough and compassionate enough” to step in ……which we did, to everyone’s relief!
Today’s Case of the Week comes from our Sarasota, FL office written by our Regional Manager, Bob Graham. 
Today we had a veteran contact us who is also a single Mom of 4 children. She is 100% disabled with PTSD and is committed to moving to Florida within the next week to be closer to family and hence to a needed support system and ongoing counseling/monitoring. 
She can cover the move and required deposit but needs financial assistance on the application fee and the first month’s rent. Searching online for potential support she found Veterans’ Outreach, contacted our Ohio corporate office which referred it to the Sarasota regional office which provided what she needs. She’s very happy that she can move ahead with her plan!