March 10 at 11:24am

Female veterans get the full beauty treatment

The last few years have been rough for U.S. Navy veteran Brenda Rollinson.

She was the owner of a business that administered services to small nonprofits from 1993-2009. The economic crash of 2008, though, decimated her business, and ultimately led to bankruptcy and the loss of her company, house, car and eventually her savings.

Gone, too, were things previously routine in her life, such as trips to the beauty salon.

Rollinson hadn’t had a haircut since August before she found herself in a salon chair March 3 at the Bellus Academy in Poway, getting the complete workup – haircut, coloring, highlights and manicure.

Rollinson was one of eight female veterans receiving some much-appreciated pampering that day, courtesy of the Bellus Academy, a beauty school, wellness and holistic center. The academy offered complimentary hair and nail services to participants in the Homeless Female Veteran, Veterans with Families and other veterans programs at Interfaith Community Services.

The programs offered through Veterans Assistance of San Diego, a division of Interfaith, are designed to help people with job training, employment services and placement and other supportive services to assist them in achieving and maintaining self-sufficiency.

The purpose of the salon day was to move along that process by getting the female veterans looking sharp as they prepare for job, school or training program interviews.

“We love doing military outreach,” said Leilani Angel, director of community relations for Bellus Academy. “We’re giving them proper hair and nails to help boost their self-confidence and their self-esteem and to help them land that job.”

Renee Ulland, also a Navy veteran, was getting some highlights in her hair from licensed cosmetologist Terrell Mitchell. She echoed Angel’s comments.

“I think being able to get my hair done will help with my self-confidence, which will help me get a job,” said Ulland.

Since getting divorced three years ago, Ulland has struggled with depression, which led her to start drinking, then to taking drugs, addictions to heroin and crystal meth, and ultimately four months in jail.

She began a court-mandated rehab program at New Resolve, then connected to Interfaith in November. Since then, she has completed a medical-billing course, received counseling for depression and begun participating in employment-assistance programs to polish her resume preparation and interviewing skills.

“Interfaith is just the best. With all they’ve done, I’ll probably be able to nab a good job in an office,” Ulland said. “I think they’ve really helped me get back on my feet. Realizing my full potential will make me happy.”

The makeovers are a part of that, indicated Katie Krefft, a veterans advocate who helped arrange the salon event.

“I think this will make a huge difference. People feel better when they look better,” said Krefft. “A polished look has a huge effect on how you feel when you go into an interview. It often shows to an interviewer how confident a person she is.”

Rollinson, who has gone through several interviews since coming to Interfaith, was quite appreciative of the hair-styling she was receiving from student Angie Chellenberg.

“It’s amazing to be able to do what I used to be able to do when I could take care of myself financially,” Rollinson said. “I’m going to feel very special when I’m done.”