By Rose Holmes, Lead Veteran Navigator
People are so much more than their criminal records! This statement is exemplified by Scott S., a Veteran who had just gotten out of prison and who was also our very first client that the Family Alliance for Veterans of America (FAVA) worked with in Iowa back in 2013! He was so grateful to have the emotional support that staff provided while getting him connected with permanent housing. His success amplified our enthusiasm to go forward and do good. He lives in our community. Seeing him and his family continues to be inspirational for our staff.
In Scott’s own words:
My name is Scott, and I was in prison, but without FAVA, who knows where I would be? They gave me an address. I know that doesn’t mean a lot to a lot of people, but to me, that meant everything. I didn’t have to go to a work release center. I got to go to a home where I got a fresh start. Without this, I don’t know what would’ve happened to me or where I would’ve ended up. People leaving prison don’t have any options if they have no family or have burnt too many bridges because of their struggles. FAVA is a way for Veterans to find new hope in life. Thank you, FAVA, for everything you’ve done for me, from providing clothes to shelter to even hygiene – you’ve given this Veteran everything he needed to succeed. Now, I own my own home, am married to a wonderful woman, and have an amazing dog, job, and life all because FAVA gave me an address!”
Another one of our Veterans served, Mark K., moved here from Kansas in December of 2022. He did not know anyone here but moved because Iowa’s cost of living is so much cheaper. It was most urgent to get him housing and reunite this young family while he set out alone to secure a place for his loved ones. Their second child was to be born in January of 2023. This Veteran was very proactive in obtaining his housing and finding work. Fortunately, we knew the right people in the right places to offer support and direction for his endeavors. By the grace of God, it all came together quickly. His family was reunited by Christmas! Their sweet baby boy was born on January 15 earlier this year! They are beyond a beautiful family of four.
Mark recounts his experience:
“I recently moved to Iowa from out of state. I had never been to Iowa before, so the only things I knew to expect were from the internet. I came to the state ahead of my pregnant wife and my year-old daughter and was planning on living in my vehicle until I could get employment and housing set up for us. I connected with FAVA through my local VA medical clinic. That day, I was able to be temporarily housed in a hotel while I looked for housing and employment. After two weeks, I was able to move into a two-bedroom house. FAVA paid for the deposit and the first three months of rent which allowed my family to follow me to Iowa and to focus on
getting an income. I was able to get a job at a prison here. Throughout the winter, while me and my family were getting set up, our FAVA contact checked up on our progress many times and helped us out immensely. FAVA also gave my daughter and my then soon-to-be born son Christmas presents. FAVA still stays in contact with us.”
Without the support of FAVA, these families could have had a very different outcome. We are so grateful to be able to provide the much-needed support for our Veterans and their families!