Giving A Helping Hand To Veterans In Need
By Darryl Vincent, U.S.VETS chief operating officer
They withstand gunfire, explosions and travel to remote corners of the world, but some returning veterans don’t even have a place to call home.
Russell Dela Cruz joined the United States Marine Corp and served as a motor transport operator during Operation Desert Storm. After receiving numerous awards and medals for his duties, and feeling satisfied with the services he provided his country, Russell honorably discharged from the military.
He shortly returned to the Islands and found himself struggling to reintegrate into the only world that he knew prior to his military service. Anxiety, depression, hypervigilance – symptoms of what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder – debilitated him. Not knowing how to cope with these symptoms, Russell turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. His addiction found him serving five years in prison, where he learned about a program that would change the course of his life.
Founded in 1992, U.S.VETS is the largest national nonprofit service agency that commits to providing comprehensive services to our nation’s heroes who find themselves homeless or needing assistance. With 11 sites across the country (including Barbers Point and Waianae), stable housing, intensive case management, temporary financial support and employment assistance are a few of the program cornerstones that define veteran services at the U.S.VETS-Barbers Point location.
As the only veteran-specific program in the state of Hawaii, U.S.VETS-Barbers Point has served nearly 2,500 formerly homeless veterans in its programs.
The local site is a growing social service agency, which has recently expanded its services to include homeless prevention and a specific focus on homeless female veterans. With the approximate cost of $80 per day to serve one veteran, community support is vital to sustaining a program that continues to honor the brave service members who fight for our freedom every day. U.S.VETSBarbers Point is hosting its second annual golf tournament at Hoakalei Country Club May 23. For sponsorship information, or to learn how to support this organization’s mission, please call Luisanna Carrera at 672-2984.
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