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Veterans Day 2021: Luisa’s Story

After serving almost nine years in the United States Navy, the plans that National Home Resident Luisa had made for her transition to civilian life quickly changed, and she found herself unexpectedly parenting her four children on her own.  

“When I decided to separate from the military in January 2017, I just had my baby Jackson, and originally I planned to become a full-time student and go to school to get my degree in psychology. I had my husband and my kids, he had his career, and we were supposed to continue life. A couple months after my dad’s passing, our relationship turned for the worst and we ended up divorcing. This led me to leave the state I was living in and move in Eaton Rapids because I needed the help. I was now a single mom with four kids to raise on my own. No job. No money.”

Little did she know, Luisa had brought her family to the very town where military and veteran families can find the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives at the VFW National Home for Children.  

“I went from full-time military where I’m so used to structure, uniform, you know, get things done right here right now to a full-time single parent of 4 children, and there’s no schedule, there’s no structure it’s chaos every day.”-Luisa

“When I first arrived at the VFW National Home, mentally, I was a mess. I didn’t even know really how I felt; I was just going through the emotions of my dad’s passing, my divorce, and just trying to learn how to be a mom and raise my four kids. So I was nervous at first and overwhelmed because I didn’t know really what to expect.”

“Financially, I was broke. I did not have 2 pennies or two nickels to rub together. Another struggle that I went through was the experience of becoming a mom again, a full-time mom.” 

While living at the National Home, Luisa was assigned a one-on-one case manager who helped her set goals and make plans for her future.

“My case manager, she was my guardian angel. I like to call her my second mom; she really looked out for me; she     provided so much information. She was there to guide me and she provided me with so many resources. Through this program I really owe a lot to her because she’s been a blessing in my life. I’m really grateful for her.”

“She was able to provide multiple resources just to get me back on track, how to be a mom and how to care, which helped me a lot because I really needed to understand my children at that time and understand their needs and wants and remember that I’m no longer in the military. I have to be a mom.”

Luisa found that the temporary relief of monthly rent and utility bills allowed her to focus on her family. She was also able to utilize the National Home’s free, state-licensed Early Education Center for her youngest children.

“I’m really going to miss them [EEC staff]. They’ve dealt with me and all my struggles from the beginning and they’re just a loving group. I really appreciate them.”

After 2 1/2 years, Luisa felt she had accomplished all she wanted to and was ready to exit the program.

“I am leaving the National Home with only two debts which are my cell phone bill and car insurance, so I’m blessed.”

Luisa’s next goals are to return to her former home city and state of residence and purchase a home. 

“The National Home has set me up to where I can now leave and be happy financially. I have a solid foundation.” 

“The Home has done so much for my family. They did wonders for us, things that I couldn’t even dream of. I was struggling, and the National Home literally held their hand out, and I reached for it, and so I will be forever grateful for this home.”

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