By the Team at WestCare Iowa/Family Alliance for Veterans of America (FAVA)
In early January of 2018, we met Chris, a U.S. Army Veteran and his girlfriend, Kaylee in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Chris had served as an infantryman and was honorably discharged after completing two tours in Iraq. Chris and Kaylee came to Family Alliance for Veterans of America (FAVA) because they were being evicted from an apartment they could no longer afford. At the time, he was collecting unemployment from his construction job. Kaylee, who had been working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), was seven months pregnant when her doctor put her on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy and unfortunately, had not worked long enough to qualify for unemployment benefits. As a result, the young couple was about to have their electricity shut off and could not fix Chris’s truck, which was in poor working condition. To say they were stressed is a serious understatement.
With the temporary financial assistance that Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) provides, we were able to lend support to this couple in need. This assistance helped Chris and Kaylee become current with their rent and utility bills. In addition, Chris was able to fix his truck by installing a new alternator, battery, and tires as well as receive general maintenance.
Additionally, they were approved for heating assistance from a partner agency to get them through the winter. Chris and Kaylee began receiving Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. They also utilized food pantries while waiting for a Section 8 housing subsidy. As a result, they began to feel hopeful again. Kaylee began getting better reports from her doctor and Chris was approved for 60% Compensation from the VA Health Administration (VA).
We worked to develop a budget that would help them stay on track and created a plan. Chris got part-time work at a nearby convenience store and in March, Kaylee gave birth to their healthy seven-pound baby, Christine. Chris was thrilled with the way things had been going and decided to go back to college for business using the G.I. Bill. Kaylee was able to return to work with the help of her neighbor, who agreed to babysit. After six months, Chris and Kaylee exited our program – grateful for the SSVF assistance that they say saved them.
In the summer of 2022, FAVA staff attended a barbecue hosted by Webster County Veteran Affairs. A smiling family of four came to our table and asked for hugs. It was Chris, Kaylee, Christine, and one new baby – Jack! Everybody was as happy as the sunshine was bright. Chris had completed college and now owns a Mexican Restaurant. Kaylee is a support staff for the Department of Human Services in Webster County. They have plans to build another Mexican Restaurant in a neighboring city. We are proud of Chris and Kaylee’s commitment to their family and all of their accomplishments and that FAVA was able to play a small part in their story through the SSVF grant!