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As an Army medic, Cecelia R has helped her fellow soldiers. She’s helped heal their wounds and has seen their scars.  Today, she knows that not all wounds and scars are visible on the outside.

Her life after the military took her down a dark path.  Cecelia and her second husband were involved in criminal activity.  Their unhealthy relationship continued to spiral downhill. She had hoped to end the cycle by leaving her husband and returned home to live with her mother.  That move wasn’t enough to change her behavior. A visit to Pennsylvania to see her nephew should have been an incentive to forge a new future, instead she was arrested.

She completed her jail sentence and was on probation.  After she was released from jail, her  nephew and his mother allowed her to stay with them. It wasn’t an ideal setting for Cecelia and she found herself homeless and literally staying in hotels and in her rented car on the street.

That’s when Cecelia found the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in Lancaster County.  “There are a lot of people out there who want to help.  You have to put your pride to the side and move on,” she advises. With the help of Lancaster-county case manager, Kim Hartman, Cecelia was able to get a new beginning that includes a new apartment where she feels safe and secure.  “I can be independent again,” she added.  Cecelia continues to work on her goals which include finding a job where she can use her medical skills that she acquired in the Army.

Cecelia’s greatest lessons include learning how to humble herself and reach out for help.  “Tell the truth, let it go and release it,” she added.

Opportunity House administers the Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant in Berks, Schuylkill and Lancaster Counties.