You’ve heard the sad stories of veterans falling through the social service cracks and ending up homeless.
This is not that.
Instead, it’s a happy tale about a group in South Carolina that united to patch those cracks in the system and efficiently coordinate resources available to help veterans.
Disabled U.S. Army Veteran Herbert Frink of Beaufort, S.C., hit upon hard times recently. He lost his job and went through an expensive divorce, both of which put him behind on his rent, utility and car payments. Frink gained custody of his two young children, but he knew he might lose them, too, if he lost his housing, so he asked for help at the American Red Cross.
His simple request set off a united effort to keep a roof over his head, made possible by the new Military and Veterans Service Alliance of the Lowcountry (MAVSA). The service, which began this year in the southern state, maintains a database of more than 40 organizations eager to help vets. Representatives from the nonprofits meet once a month to coordinate their efforts.
In Frink’s case, the Red Cross picked up the tab for his overdue electric bills, the Savannah chapter of Wounded Warriors got him up to date on his car payments and One80 Place, a Charleston, S.C.-based nonprofit that aims to prevent homelessness, paid for his rent and even found him a new job with a trucking company. They also found a daycare that would accept Frink’s kids and accommodate his job hours.
“They have done so much for me,” Frink tells the Beaufort Gazette. “The resources started pouring in once I contacted them, and they have not stopped.”
Frink isn’t the only veteran MAVSA has helped. In its first few months of operation, members have also connected a suicidal veteran with psychiatric care and helped others get back on their feet financially. The coalition hopes to expand their scope in the future, updating their website and partnering with law enforcement to initiate special veterans courts.
“As a veteran, it makes me feel so good to know that organizations in my hometown are helping veterans,” Frink says. “I never thought I’d experience it. Now that someone’s helping me, I need to give back. I owe a million thanks to them. They saved me and my children.”