A young Veteran contacted us. He was depressed, and looking for help. Several of us surrounded him with resources and options. Seemed like a good intake. The highlight was when I took him to In and Out burger, and he taught me about “Animal style”. In and out afficiandos are aware of this, but not the uninitiated. He was thrilled. He had not had In and Out for years. His dad had been very hard on him. For just a moment, I got to be a good dad to him.
Unfortunately, soon after the intake, he started spiraling down hill. The family that rented a room to him, became quite concerned. He was staying in his room. Not eating. Blew all of his rent money at Redhawk when he did venture out. He texted me, asking me to stop sending the sheriffs out on wellness checks. It seemed like he was hunkering down to die.
Then a miracle happened. He was about to become a father. The family of his child’s mother contacted him. “Join us. Become part of our family. We want you to be here to raise your child.” He came to life, moved to Red Bluff, and joined her family.
For the sake of his child, he chose life.
A Marine, recently retired as a Deputy Sheriff, told me about saving the life of a woman who attempted suicide. He was frustrated because a year later, she improved her technique, and succeeded in killing herself. He felt like it was as if his good deed had been completely undone.
I have had some practice reframing these things. I said to him, “Imagine you and your buddy are out on patrol. You sense danger, and pull him out, just in the nick of time. You saved his life, right? Next week, you are out on patrol again. This time your buddy gets blasted away. It still counts that you saved his life. You did not waste your time.”
This time, he got it. His epiphany was, her kids had her for one more year. Every time you save someone’s life, it is just for the moment. We all die eventually any way. Save lives anyway.
Rainy day phone calls:
1. "Yes, we will cover your fees at the DMV to put the vehicle in your name. And the insurance. Excepting that we have to see how the arraignment goes on Monday for driving on a suspended license." A good, hard working, honorably discharged, Veteran, facing debtor's prison.
2. "Yes, the draft is over, but Selective Service Registration appears to still be in force, for males, aged 18-26, according to the Internet. And I remember my son registering over 20 years ago. So, it probably was legitimate that he signed up." The caller was a Veteran trying to help his community, and worried that there had been a scam. I would have sent them to the county, but the young man had already sent the paperwork off. He would have been better off to check with the county Department of Veteran Affairs first, to be sure, before sending back the forms.
3. "Yes, I think the county Department of Veteran Affairs can help you get some of your medals that you earned for your service. I remember one Veteran who had his DD214 updated to reflect more Distinguished Flying Crosses and Bronze Stars, so I think they would be a good place to start. Wow, the VA provided your service dog. Wow, the VA sends a van to drive you to Mather. Wow, they put you in the front of the line for your prescriptions and appointments. Wow, multiple head traumas. Agent Orange. PTS(D). Tinnitus. Numerous acts of heroism. Serving your fellow Veterans. Combat injury after combat injury." When John Glenn first ran for Senate, his opponent attacked him for having never made a payroll. The implication was clear. Military service was not real work.
John Glenn replied, saying in essence, "You go into a VA hospital, and tell those guys they didn't have a real job."
See number 3 above. Of course, John Glenn won.
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Every now and then we hear that there are no homeless veterans in El Dorado county. This is simply not true. In roughly the last six months I have served 16 veterans who were homeless. They may have had a sleeping bag. Or a car to sleep in. Or a couch surfing circuit that they have worked out. But they have had no fixed address other than General Delivery at the Post Office. I have also served 10 other veterans who have homes, but have been at risk of homelessness.
One of our goals is to get a permanent facility to help veterans transition from homelessness to a permanent residence, especially as they wait for their veterans checks. Although the Mercy facility next to Mather due to open in 2016 will be great, and although converting unused existing residential facilities at McClellan would be great, enough is happening in El Dorado county with people who, for whatever reason, care to stay in El Dorado county, that our own transitional housing would also be great.
We continue to explore options for Tiny House Living with Supportive Services.
Our Veterans Team Leaders:
David Zelinsky/Service Officer-American Legion Post 119 - 530.919.8488
Butch and Pat Nash/Veteran and Addiction Counselors
Terry Silverthorn/Veteran/Business Owner/Pilot
Counseling and Support.
Advocacy with the VA.
Wherever there are men and women service members
we're there to help.
Mental Health Referrals.
Medical Provider Referrals.
We Pledge Allegiance...to our Vets.
We honor our service
members at home and
abroad by helping
those who need
support at home.
Just like our Veteran Heroes; we serve every day.
Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat:
I had been trying to save this homeless, female, Navy Veteran's life for well over a year.
The call came in: "Victory Village said that I could come out and get interviewed. Can you give me a ride?"
"How long has it been since you used Meth?" "Months."
Should be good. It seems to go through the system quickly. I think it is water soluble. Does a number on the teeth and internal organs though.
Loaded up the car with her stuff, and headed out. "They will drug test you."
"Oh. I used Meth last night." Might as well keep going. They expect her, and we're half way there.
The Victory Village social worker has a great B.S. Detector. "David, she's been using Meth, Marijuana and Alcohol. And a lot more than what she's been telling you."
"Alcohol?" They say when God shuts a door, he opens a window.
The door to Victory Village was shut. But the door to Mather detox just opened. Then a ninety day certificate of sobriety from a residential program. Apply to the T-House at the Yountville State of California Veterans Home. Stay in the Bridge to Life dormitory in Fairfield until Yountville has an empty bed. Once again, this life can be saved.
THEY SERVED, Too.
The National Law Enforcement Memorial
I am writing this from Washington D.C. on Memorial Day weekend. A family obligation is to pay respects to the memorial for Marc Kahre ( pronounced Cary) who died in Nevada as a peace officer responding to a report of domestic violence. He was my daughter in law's uncle.
Then I thought to my self, "I wonder if Dean's father's name is here." My daughter helped me find it. William Dodge. Motorcycle policeman, who died in the line of duty in King City, in 1926.
Dean's mom was pregnant with Dean when she got the news. Dean never met his dad.
His dad would have been proud. Dean served in the Pacific theater in World War II. The Post has Dean's scrap book, from Philippines Independence Day, featuring close photos of General MacArthur.
Dean is why I am your Service Officer. He never married, staying faithfully by his mom, who needed his support. Since there was no family, it was my pleasure and duty to stand by Dean until he died.
Dean passed away April 6, 2016.
He would have been so pleased if I could have told him that his father was memorialized in Washington D.C.
Get help finding Veterans Housing - Click on the link above.
Only Kindness, Inc., dba Community Resource Center, has been serving the homeless and at risk of homelessness population of El Dorado county for a number of years. Since July of 2014, in collaboration with Veterans organizations, a separate Veterans fund has been established. In addition to helping Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, the following services are being provided: