After hearing her Veteran grandfather’s stories about serving in the Battle of the Bulge, Linda* knew she wanted to enlist in the Army. At age 23, and the mother of a 3 year old, Linda, wanted to better herself and provide security for her young family. The Army gave her that opportunity.
She trained as a CBRN (chemical, biological, radiologic, nuclear) soldier at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and used that training at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas to train others. After she and her husband completed their service, they moved back to her home state of Pennsylvania and she gave birth to her second daughter.
A Rough Road Ahead
The couple divorced and Linda worked as a corrections officer at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania prison. Her daughters lived in Perry County, Pennsylvania with her parents so she could work to support them.
Eventually she and her new husband moved to a room in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “We wanted to save as much money as possible so we could get an apartment for all of us,” noted Linda. The building where they were living didn’t allow children. Eventually, she moved in with her husband’s sister, but that didn’t last. Then she learned she was pregnant, and her husband was sentenced to prison. Moving back with her parents who were raising her daughters was not an option for her.
Giving Up Hope
“I thought I would live in my car,” she added. Then she learned about the Supportive Service for Veteran Families program. They helped her with transitional housing while she worked as a housekeeper at a local hotel and selling mobile phones. She would get overnight passes from the transitional housing provider so she could spend time with her daughters. “I couldn’t bring my daughters to transitional housing. I felt like I had failed as a mom,” she added. She gave birth to her third daughter and was determined to get an apartment where she could live with all of her children. She found a small apartment and they were reunited. “It was the first step to feeling like a real family,” she added.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families at Opportunity House helped Linda get her life back on track. “It’s tough to ask for help,” added Linda. The Army says you have to adapt and overcome everything. That inspired this Veteran to get the additional support she needed to restart her life. Linda thanks her SSVF Lancaster case manager, Kim Hartman, for helping her get back on her feet. “She was there when I needed help,” she added. Linda has learned to accept her past and embrace who she is as a person today.
*Name changed to protect her confidentiality.