Looking to take advantage of the educational benefits that the military offered, Anita Pascual joined the National Guard when she was just 19 years old.
Just as she was set to deploy to Iraq, however, she found out she was pregnant, so she left the Guard only to join the Army three years later and serve in Afghanistan.
After active duty, Pascual returned home to her three kids in Fresno, Calif. and hit a bumpy road. “One day I was me, a soldier, and the next day I’m mom again,” she tells Valley Public Radio. “Mom, and sister, and daughter and I had to do all that buckle up and it was just exhausting and overwhelming sometimes.”
Pascual couldn’t pay her bills and soon received an eviction notice. She turned to the nonprofit WestCare Foundation’s housing complex for homeless vets: HomeFront. The organization welcomed her and gave her an apartment to stay in while she got back on her feet; about four years ago, she was able to leave and move into her own home.
Now Pascual works for HomeFront, helping other female vets facing homelessness find jobs, education opportunities and support.
Elle, a veteran that Pascual is helping, appreciates the extra touches HomeFront provides to help homeless service members. “It’s not just a room and that’s it. You have all the capabilities of what can help you to move forward,” Elle says. “It doesn’t make you feel like you’re sitting under a park bench anymore.”
Elle credits Pascual with helping to put her life back in order. “I’m going to get my college benefits, she put me up with a good position with being able to get a job. Seven or eight years of back and forth it took seven weeks just for Anita to help me out.”