Homeless Veteran Starts a New Life With Help From MISSION UNITED
When she worked as a medical billing and coding manager several years ago, U.S. Air Force Veteran Natasha would drive past United Way of Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale headquarters every day. However, she never dreamed that one day she would be in need of assistance from United Way and our MISSION UNITED program for Veterans.
Natasha was later working at a Broward post office when she suddenly became very ill and was hospitalized. Diagnosed with diabetes, she was forced to leave her job and move with her 5-year-old son, Jason, to her sister’s home in another area of Florida. Her sister was helping care for Jason while Natasha was recovering from her severe illness and learning to live with diabetes. Things were going fine for a while, until her sister was unable to help out anymore and Natasha and Jason were forced to move out. They were homeless, and their world was turned upside down. Natasha decided to move back to Broward County, where she felt most comfortable.
With Natasha unable to work, the mother and son lived in a hotel and existed on her small savings and disabled military pension. Her VA peer counselor helped by bringing her food and providing other support, and suggested she contact United Way of Broward County’s MISSION UNITED, where she could possibly receive additional services.
“My money was running out,” said Natasha. “I had nowhere else to turn. My MISSION UNITED case manager made no promises, but said they would try to help me find housing.”
After locating an apartment, Natasha received a security deposit and first and last months’ rental assistance from MISSION UNITED. She is also receiving rental subsidy and utility assistance for 10 months from MISSION UNITED’s housing program, and was able to get a voucher for some household items such as a bed, pots, pans, dishes, and more.
“I am so grateful for MISSION UNITED,” said Natasha. “Having a home again, I’ve been able to emotionally calm down, and I am getting my diabetes under control. My life is getting back to normal.”
Today, Jason is in kindergarten and with her military benefits paying for her education and providing a small monthly income, Natasha is going to school at Broward College, studying emergency management services. She hopes to one day work for FEMA and to help other people in need. Meanwhile, she has a message for other Veterans: “It’s important that Veterans know MISSION UNITED is here for us. We need to spread the word about MISSION UNITED,” she said.
Natasha is one of more than 3,900 Veteran families who have been helped with housing through MISSION UNITED. Created by United Way of Broward County in 2013, MISSION UNITED serves those who served our country by offering a variety of services, including case management, housing support, pro bono legal services and much more. Since its founding, the program has expanded to United Ways across the U.S.
To learn more about MISSION UNITED, click here.