People who come to The Salvation Army have a diverse set of backgrounds and reasons for needing services. Occasionally, The Salvation Army has the opportunity to give back to veterans who have given so much for our country. Esther, a participant in The Salvation Army’s Veteran Program, is a perfect example of the way homelessness can happen to anyone, often times by no fault of their own.IMG_2501

Esther found her sense of purpose in the military and was especially proud to serve during September 11th, when our nation needed her most. Later on in her service, Esther was unfortunately challenged by addiction and abuse from supervising officers. When Esther was honorably discharged from the military, she found herself homeless at the VA Hospital in Tampa. Due to limited resources for women and veterans, she feared she had nowhere to go.

Fortunately, the VA Hospital contacted The Salvation Army, and Esther was given a place to stay at the Red Shield Lodge. She had a bed to herself and a team of people ready to make her feel comfortable and valued. The Red Shield Lodge provided Esther with a safe space to reorganize herself before moving forward. After so much had happened to Esther so quickly, she was very thankful to have a quiet night in the Red Shield Lodge to regroup. The next morning, Esther met her case manager, Kathy, and took the first step towards independence.

Kathy was eager to support her in finding a plan of action that would best suit her. The Salvation Army allowed Esther to take the lead while providing useful resources to help her overcome her challenges. Esther was in charge of her own future; but The Salvation Army was there to help her every step of the way. She was able to acquire necessary information, such as an address, phone number, and proper identification, to re-establish her identity. It was not long before Esther was introduced to housing and schooling opportunities, and she could see her life coming together piece by piece.

After only a few months, Esther was back on her feet. She is now living in her own apartment while furthering her education and her recovery. All Esther needed was a boost from The Salvation Army to gain back her confidence. Now, Esther is thriving and excited for what her future holds. Esther feels thankful and appreciative of the help she received, and The Salvation Army also feels honored to have served her.

The Salvation Army meets wonderful people like Esther every day who simply need a boost. The Salvation Army and all of its services are aimed towards helping people see what they are capable of, and giving them the tools to reach their full potential. People affected by homelessness typically come to The Salvation Army after experiencing massive loss and trauma. The more they lose, the more hostility they face. The Salvation Army strives to break down negative perceptions of homelessness, and treat their participants with every bit of respect as they would a friend. The Salvation Army proves that when they are met with compassion and support, there are no limits to what they can accomplish.

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