Change came for one Veteran

victorVictor sat surrounded by laundry in the basement of the VA hospital, and couldn’t be happier.

It’s an unlikely place for a Marine, but he is proud of the work he has done and thankful for the help of Volunteers of America to be there.

Victor enlisted in the Marines a year before graduating high school, and left for boot camps weeks after in 1976.

“The only thing I regret is I didn’t retire.”

He fell in love, and left the Marines to return to his wife.

As an infantryman, Victor was a trained “American Fighting Man” – not a terribly marketable skill in the civilian world. But he found work and took care of his children until about a year ago.

The Marine Veteran, by then divorced and in recovery for addiction, was laid off from his job in Monroe and his prospects for improving his situation were bleak.

So he drove down I-20.

“I wanted better things – to do something positive,” he said.

When he arrived in Shreveport, he stayed at the Salvation Army and then connected with the VA and Volunteers of America’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. Instantly, he was impressed by his case manager.

“She made me feel welcome,” he said. “She motivated me to want to do the right thing.”

Through the program, he found an apartment and established a home. He also found a job through the Vocational Rehabilitation program at the VA, which helps struggling veterans get back into the workforce.

Proud to be a federal employee, he jokes with co-workers and is happy to share his experience with Volunteers of America.

“Y’all gave me the right tools,” he said. “But you have to want it.”

A few weeks, he graduated from the program, and was elected by his peers to speak at the ceremony. He plans to close by singing Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”

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