A Special Forces Medic Finds Success through Tierney Center

Sara Chuzie Affiliate Success Stories

(Highlight: Tierney Center for Veteran Services at Goodwill OC) Josh was referred to the Tierney Center by a Veterans Resource Center (VRC) Manager for Coastline Community College. Josh is a post-9/11 Army Veteran who served as a Special Forces Medic. He suffered from an extreme Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with limited mobility and work capabilities. Josh was enrolled in courses at Coastline Community College but his post-9/11 GI bill benefits were held back for months due to a clerical error. To make matters worse, he also lost his job at the local REI and found himself in a financial crisis.

Josh, being a resourceful green beret, had already done the leg work with the VRC Manager to get his post-9/11 GI bill clerical error fixed to receive his stipend for school. However, this error combined with the
loss of his job resulted in Josh not having money for his rent. To further complicate the situation, Josh was renting a room in a house where his name was not on the residential lease agreement. As a result, this disqualified him for Supportive Services for Veterans and
Families (SSVF). The Tierney Center reached out to their sub-grantee, Volunteers of America’s Battle Buddy Bridge, to coordinate a plan with Josh. Battle Buddy Bridge and the Tierney Center combined funds to cover the overdue rent and keep Josh in his home
with the understanding that in time, Josh would be able pay rent on his own. Josh is still active with the Tierney Center and comes to every Veteran Business Network mixer. Josh currently trains service animals for veterans like himself. He usually brings us a new furry recruit to meet.

Veterans One-stop Center of Western New York Inc: The Marine, Andrew

Sara Chuzie Affiliate Success Stories

For four years, the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY has provided support to Veterans going through the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court, a special court for drug and alcohol addicted veterans. This support empowers the recovery of these veterans by embedding a staff member in the courtroom for the weekly court dates that provide wraparound services in collaboration with the Veteran mentors and other service providers. In the fall of 2016, one of the VOC of WNY’s Veteran Outreach Advocates and Marine Corps Veteran, Jeff Gramlich, met another young combat Marine who had recently been transferred to Veterans Court. The Marine, Andrew, had been medically retired in 2015 after 5 years of service. A year later, Andrew was unemployed, had gotten a DWI, and was living with family in an unhealthy situation. To add to Andrew’s stress, he was also trying to navigate the complicated immigration process to bring his wife to the United States. This proved to be Andrew’s biggest concern, and Jeff was able to connect the Veteran with an attorney, who completed the paperwork necessary for his wife to join him. After discussing his options, Andrew decided to move in with a friend to alleviate the unhealthy components that had added to his problems in his previous living situation. As his life began to stabilize, Andrew expressed interest in going back to school to pursue an advanced degree. Andrew had already completed his Bachelor’s and exhausted his GI Bill, so Jeff was able to connect Andrew with the VA Vocational Rehabilitation program for the online program that he wanted. Andrew had also begun experiencing additional serious medical issues that were related to his service, so Jeff connected him with a Veterans Service Officer to increase his current disability rating, which is at 70%. The claim is still pending but Jeff should be notified of a decision very soon. America’sWarriorPartnership.org © 2017 America’s Warrior Partnership and Veterans One-stop Center of Western New York Inc. All rights reserved. Case Study. The VOC continues to remain engaged with Andrew, but Jeff notes that Andrew is admittedly in a much better place than he was when VOC advocates initially met him. They will continue to follow up with Andrew and look forward to being part of Andrew’s empowerment as he continues his transition back to the civilian world.

Highlight: Tierney Center for Veteran Services at Goodwill OC

Sara Chuzie Affiliate Success Stories, Uncategorized

Miguel, a Post-9/11 veteran and student at Cypress College, was referred to the Tierney Center by our education partner, Cypress College, for the Orange County Real Estate Emergency (OCRE) fund. This fund is the direct result of data collection from seven participating colleges to identify VA benefit usage, gaps in service and student’s awareness of the Orange County veteran space. The main focus of this fund is to keep students on track to graduate. Miguel was discharged from the Army in 2013 under general conditions. This discharge status poses many barriers for veterans by blocking their access to important veteran educational benefits. However, this fact did not stop Miguel from obtaining his education goals. Totally determined to advance his education and skills, Miguel enrolled in the Cypress College Automotive Technologies Program without access to his education benefits. Partner relationships are vital in integrating local resources to best serve our veteran population. In Miguel’s case, two major barriers were defined. The first barrier was Miguel’s access to education. The second barrier was Miguel’s discharge status. Knowing an upgrade in his discharge status would take time and resources, a School Certifying Official from the Cypress College Veteran Resource Center immediately set up funding for Miguel’s books, entrance fees and tuition for the first semester through a California state program for low income students. To cover Miguel’s second semester, approximately $450 was provided by the Tierney Center via the OCRE fund for tuition. Books and admission fees for his second semester was provided by the Cypress College Foundation. Working collectively has helped Miguel remain in school and on track to graduate in January 2019. To mitigate his second barrier, the Cypress College enlisted the help of Veteran’s Legal Institute (VLI). VLI has been a long standing pro America’sWarriorPartnership.org © 2017 America’s Warrior Partnership and Tierney Center for Veteran Services at Goodwill OC. Allrightsreserved. Case Study. bono legal resource and partner of the Tierney Center here in Orange County, California. They have an excellent track record with discharge upgrades. Veterans Legal Institute is also a participant of the America’s Warrior Partnership Community Integration subgrantee program. Although this upgrade service will take time we are certain Miguel’s discharge status will be upgraded allowing him to be eligible for veteran educational benefits just in time for his second year of studies.

Highlight: Palmetto Warrior Connection

Sara Chuzie Affiliate Success Stories

Tisha McCollum is a Navy Veteran who served from 1991-1995. Tisha was discharged from the Navy in 1995 and went to work as an insurance agent for 6 years, then worked for a financial institution and in the cosmetology industry. When a long term relationship ended, Tisha became the sole provider for her four children. With two of the children in college and two other teen-agers to support, Tisha began to struggle to make ends meet. In addition to the financial struggles, Tisha also grappled with the mental health of her two children at home, one with ADHD and the other with Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as her own issues with depression, PTSD and her transition to civilian life. These struggles overwhelmed Trisha, and she and her children found themselves homeless. Trisha was able to receive help through SSVF (Supportive Services for Children and Families) and the VA HUDVASH program; through these programs she and her family moved into an apartment. Initially, she was responsible for the entire rental amount, until the program kicked in and provided relief. In October of 2016, Hurricane Matthew came through Tisha’s hometown of Charleston, SC. Mandatory evacuation protocol resulted in the family having to pay for a hotel room and food, causing a financial hardship for them. Tisha reached out to PWC for assistance and was helped by Housing Advocate, John Myers. Mr. Myers contacted community groups who help with utility and water bills. When asked about the impact of PWC assistance, Tisha stated that she feels more relieved, relaxed and motivated since PWC was able to help her to get back on track with her bills. She feels “hopeful and grateful” that she will find her way to success and is thankful that PWC was able to clear a path for her to make improvements in her life for herself and her children. Tisha said “I’m not where I want to be as far as success but I am on my way and thanks to you (PWC) my vision is a little more clear to know that help is out there and that there are people out there who care about people like me.”

Highlight: Goodwill Industries of Orange County

Lori Noonan Updates


Menzi Salazar, a post-9/11 Army veteran, has a service-connected disability, and was unemployed. She was referred to the Tierney Center for Veteran Services by one of our community partners, Adrian Conger at the OC OneStop.  Caleb Garcia, one of our Job Developers, then began assisting her.

Menzi served in Germany as Mess Administrative Specialist in the Army.  She is bi-lingual in English and Tagalog, an Austronesian language with about 57 million speakers in the Philippines.  She is currently married to another Army veteran, who is a chef, and they are raising a child together. Currently Menzi and her family are living at her father’s home.

One of the barriers to employment Menzi experienced was her interviewing skills, due to her shyness. Additionally, she was considered over-educated because she has earned two Masters Degrees and a law degree.

When Menzi came to us she had been through more than 20 interviews without being employed.   At that time, she was discouraged and desperate and was willing to take any job. She was even tempted to take commission-only jobs, sales jobs or waiting tables.

Menzi was interviewed by our Veterans Services Manager, Jeff Pagano, and by our Vocational Rehabilitation Program Supervisor, Bill Morisette.  Bill and Jeff identified and agreed that Menzi’s interviewing skills were weak and needed improvement.  At that time Bill Morisette took over her case and did a resume analysis with her and readjusted her resume to fit several Federal jobs to include the EEOC, Social Security Administration, Department of Labor and a few others. These positions were more in line with her education and skills, as well as her aspirations.

We invited Menzi to attend one of our Veteran Business Network mixers, where she could connect and meet other veterans in business in Orange County.  There we met her husband, Chris. This allowed Menzi to become more self-confident in meeting new people and being social in a business context, make some connections, and get some business cards for follow-up.

Through the Tierney Center Menzi went through more than five hours of one-on-one interviewing skills training.  We also had her husband there to observe what she needed to work on. He also worked with her in mock interviews at home to help her build her skills.

After she was confident that she was prepared for interviews we sent her to the EEOC to interview for an investigator position, in Los Angeles, where she was the second person on the hiring list for a direct hire.  Bill Morisette talked to the hiring manager, Tom Profit the Director of HR, where he reported her interviewing skills were fine, it was just her job skills did not match the position being offered.

Bill then setup an interview for Menzi with the District Manager, Tiffany Simmons, of the Social Security Administration where after the interview she referred Menzi for a background check and wanted her for a paid internship as an administrative assistant.

That same week Bill setup an interview for her with Social Security Agency in Garden Grove, CA for an administrative clerk position with Lance Lee, the District Manager. The interview went very well and she was offered a paid internship but no position as they were under a hiring freeze at that time.

Bill also set Menzi up with an interview with the department of Labor.  Menzi met with Nancy Ise, The Director of Investigations for an Examiner/Investigator position, but was not offered the position.

Menzi was given a second interview with the Director of the Social Security Administration in Garden Grove and got the paid internship on November 7th where she now works.

In an email from Menzi to Bill Morisette before she got the internship, she said, “I can never thank you enough for giving me pointers, Chris and I practiced last night. We drove and found the place right away.”

Bill heard from Menzi recently and she said she is applying for two new positons with the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Labor that she heard about through our email blasts. Even though she is in the start of her internship she continues to actively pursue a permanent position. Menzi continues to maintain weekly communications with Bill on how her internship is going.  Menzi loves her new internship and hopes to get hired permanently.

Before when we met Menzi, she was doubtful and discouraged, but now she is upbeat and has much more confidence and hope about the future for her and her family. With her new confidence and skills, we know she will do well.



© 2016 America’s Warrior Partnership and Goodwill Industries of Orange County. All rights reserved. Case Study.

America’s Warrior Partnership Joins Got Your 6 Veteran Empowerment Coalition

Lori Noonan Updates

AWP_Logo small transparent backgroundgot your 6


America’s Warrior Partnership, a national nonprofit that empowers communities to empower veterans, has today announced that it has joined the Veteran Empowerment Coalition of Got Your 6. Got Your 6 is an organization that brings together nonprofits, government agencies, and Hollywood in order to achieve widespread social change through collective impact. The Veteran Empowerment Coalition comprises 34 world class organizations that serve as the campaign’s subject matter experts and work with entertainment industry partners to drive strategic objectives.


“Joining the Got Your 6 Veteran Empowerment Coalition is an ideal fit for America’s Warrior Partnership,” said America’s Warrior Partnership President Jim Lorraine. “Our missions align perfectly – each with a focus on empowering veterans and the communities where they live. Together, we will focus on a stronger collective impact; thus, we welcome the opportunity to work in unison with the coalition.”


Got Your 6 refers to a military phrase which means, “I’ve got your back.” Others joining Got Your 6 and America’s Warrior Partnership include Service to School, Travis Manion Foundation, and the Warrior-Scholar Project. These nonprofit partners have the ability to leverage their networks to enhance the work each organization is accomplishing on the ground.


“The power of collective impact is a crucial tenet of both Got Your 6 and America’s Warrior Partnership”, according to Megan Bunce, director of government and community affairs for America’s Warrior Partnership, “through collaboration, we have the opportunity to address issues jointly and showcase veterans as civic assets which in turn strengthens communities as a whole.”


America’s Warrior Partnership empowers communities through a process of granting, mentoring, and providing leadership.  Its community integration program, educational offerings and other resources are available through nonprofit collaborations and contracts with other entities.


Click here to see the other partners of the Coalition.




For more information, please contact Lori Noonan, Director of Development and Marketing at lnoonan@americaswarriorpartnership.org or 706-524-2821.

© 2016 America’s Warrior Partnership.  All rights reserved.  Press release.