Panhandle Warrior Partnership
On the evening of 10 December, PWP received a phone call from the veterans benefits counselor from the University of West Florida. They had a veteran in the office facing a homeless situation. The veteran and his 16-year-old autistic daughter had been staying in the campus dorm with the eldest daughter, a student at UWF. He and his juvenile daughter were being evicted by Campus Police and had nowhere to go. PWP spoke with him concerning the immediate need for shelter and found a temporary place in Pensacola. The veteran was unwilling to take his autistic daughter to a homeless shelter. PWP transported the veteran to the VA for vet certification. With that paperwork in hand, they were to 90 works in Pensacola, SSVF & VASHUD program manager, where they screened him into their program. A delayed response from 90work required PWP to actively seek assistance from the VA Homeless Healthcare coordinator in Escambia county. Their involvement pushed an accelerated response from 90 works and secured temporary housing until more permanent housing was found.
A referral from Goodwill Legacy Corps led us to meet a Pre 9/11, 2-year AF Veteran, who was hit by a DUI driver and received spinal injuries and thus has limited mobility. Additionally, the veteran has a recurring brain tumor (non-cancerous), a tumor in her respiratory system and to make matters worse her mother tried to kill her. On top of all of this, a microburst hit her storage area, which lifted the roof off, damaging about 85% of her belongings. She was actually out-of-state being medically treated at the time when this occurred, and her items were exposed to the elements for over 3 weeks. Water damage and mold destroyed almost all of her personal effects, to include bed, loveseat, dressers, linens, pots and pans, etc. She had her items stored, as she was moving into a new place in FWB after her medical treatment had concluded. PWP referred her to a group called “Almost Sixty and Still Sexy”, they in turn adopted her and have provided linens, towels, furniture, and food gift cards. PWP received a donated bed and box spring from a referred friend of a volunteer, picked it up and delivered to the client’s home the day before Thanksgiving. She was sleeping on an air mattress prior to this, which is very painful for someone with a back/spinal injury. Goodwill and PWP picked up a donated loveseat and delivered it to her last week. Our work isn’t done, as we continue to find donated furniture for her so she can have a place to call home again. PWP was able to provide her immediate needs in less than a week.
Approximately 9 months ago an advocate came into contact with a veteran who was two weeks away from being homeless. The veteran was working in a minimum wage labor-intensive job, and his roommate was moving which would result in insufficient funds to cover the rent. During the initial interview the advocate saw signs of PTSD and a general impression of guilt and low self-esteem. The advocate and veteran together took measure of the resources the warrior had available at the time, and set a plan of action to recover the veteran and focus on achieving his goal of returning to firefighting in five years. The advocate referred him to the VASHUD program for Housing Assistance, County VSO for claims assistance, and VA CBOC for treatment and local workforce development board for employment assistance. Additionally, he was enrolled into WWP. In the weeks to follow the warrior entered into the VASHUD program and was given assistance with housing, which led to the removal of the threat of homelessness. An associate who was looking for veterans to hire then contacted the advocate. This led to the warrior garnering employment at an increased hourly rate. Months followed and as the warrior was receiving treatment for his PTSD, receiving a diagnosis, he obtained an increase of disability rating to 60%. This compensation increase along with the increase in pay resulted in economic independence. The sustained success over the 9-month period has resulted in better mental and physical health for the warrior. In recent weeks the advocate has noticed an overall increase in positive behavior from the warrior in chance interactions within the community. He has seen the warrior out and about carrying himself with dignity and pride. The warrior has now indicated he is ready to leave the local area to return to his family and start his quest to accomplish his dream of returning to firefighting. Nine long months and several agencies working together to return a veteran to society.
PWP met the widow of a 100% disabled Vet at the Eglin Casualty Affairs office. Her husband was 100% unemployable disabled. His disability was determined as service related. He served in both Vietnam and the Gulf War. He was medically retired in 1998. He committed suicide in April. BLUF –Widow had been waiting on DIC since April and she felt she had been given the run around by two entities…the VA and the Casualty Affairs Office. The PWP Advocate attended a meeting with Eglin Casualty Affairs and the Veterans widow, asked some targeted questions, and the USAF Representative started making phone calls and sending e-mails. The USAF representative was able to determine that the widow’s request for DIC was approved back on 28 Aug 2015. Lack of follow-up and organizations communicating to connect the dots resulted in a lapse of the widows’ earned benefits. The PWP Advocate asked what was the next step, and ensured that it was accomplished while they were present in the office. Result –Widow will receive her DIC benefits and she also understood the SBP payback once DIC kicked in, which to her was minimal. All other benefits had been approved…a burial allotment of $2000 (service-connected death amount) and spouse/children educational benefits.
PWP was put in touch with a Vietnam Vet via a referral from an Advocate friend who stated he was living in deplorable conditions, and had health issues. Denita Krex (Advocate) met the referral at a local health and back-to-school fair. He called the individual and found that he was very hard to understand, due to him having a tracheotomy, and set a time to meet. Upon arrival we found he was living in some of the most deplorable conditions Duane had ever seen. The Client was living in a room inside a dilapidated trailer, dating back to the 1960’s. The trailer was consumed with black mold and there were holes in his walls that allowed bugs to enter during the day and night. Additionally, the client did not have heating or air conditioning in his room. The conditions were deplorable. Duane could only figure that the client had to spend his days outside in the yard as temperatures exceed 95 degrees outside, as they elevated to over 115 degrees inside. Duane referred the client to 90Works to verify the residence as unfit for human habitation. Additionally, the client had an open tracheotomy, which is extremely dangerous with presence of black mold. Duane coordinated with 90Works for deposit money and then we scoured the realtor lists for furnished studio apartments to get the client out of the environment. 90works and PWP found a place, talked to the manager and then brought the client to the property. 90 Works helped expedite the deposit money request as PWP made a personal appointment for the client with 90 Works, as he was hard to understand. Result –Monday we had a request for safe housing. By Friday morning, we had damage deposit money for him via 90 Works, and a new place for him to move into. Five days from having nothing, to getting him set up for success.