As a son of both Navy and Army Vietnam veterans, James Watts volunteered to join the Navy he graduated from North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA. He quickly learned that Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm would provide an opportunity to learn new skills that would serve him throughout his career.
In the Navy he went to mess specialist A school to become a cook. On board the USS Forrestal, James used those skills and enjoyed working with a group of people who took pride in their work. He continued his career on the USS Detroit as part of the Eisenhower Battle Group providing supplies in the gulf region. His tour of duty ended at the Earle Naval Weapon Station in Colts Neck, New Jersey.
After his service, he used his cooking skills at a local sports pub in Allentown. Then tragedy hit with a hit-and-run accident that caused Jim to lose his ability to walk and he was in a wheelchair. After years of personal and medical struggles, Jim got connected to the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program at Opportunity House. “I turned my life around,” he notes. His SSVF case worker provided him with the necessary resources and connections to be successful. He was able to get out of a wheelchair, and obtain his driver’s license which he credits to opening doors to job opportunities. Thanks to help from Doug and Liz Graybill’s Veterans Making a Difference program, Jim has connected with the Veteran’s Coalition of Pennsylvania and Armed Forces Brotherhood for additional support and camaraderie.
Today, Jim works as a security guard at Sweet Street Desserts where he says the job is good and their cheesecake is phenomenal.
Jim credits his ongoing success to the continued support of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program at Opportunity House. “If you need assistance, someone will talk to you, provide referrals and will connect you to resources,” noted Jim. “You don’t have to do it alone. They are here to help you.”
Supportive Services for Veteran Families provides intensive case management services to eliminate homelessness by providing rental assistance, utilities assistance and healthcare