August 26 at 7:28am

‘Housing-First’ model enables local veteran to flourish

Justin-SSVF-1024x683America is privileged to field the best-trained military force in the world. However, some veterans find their skills don’t immediately transfer to a civilian job market. Others face severe challenges adjusting to civilian life, and many are coping with the debilitating effects of injuries and disabilities as a consequence of multiple deployments in combat zones.

As a result, many veterans fall into post-battlefield trauma, unemployment, homelessness, and substance abuse. Interfaith’s veterans department has one simple purpose: To return our nation’s heroes to the honor and dignity of a healthy, stable, and productive life.

After six years in the Army, including a yearlong deployment in Iraq, Justin returned home to Pennsylvania and enlisted in the Marine Corps.  It was with the Marines that he eventually moved out to San Diego and was stationed at Camp Pendleton.  Upon returning home from six months in Japan with the Marines, Justin decided to honorably discharge from the military.

“I came home to my daughter saying ‘Daddy, please don’t go back,’ and what could I do?” said Justin.  “At the end of the day, I just wanted to stay in San Diego for my daughter and make it work.”

After settling back into civilian life in Oceanside, Justin tried to juggle going back to school at Mira Costa College to earn his degree in law enforcement with finding a part-time job.  However, when he couldn’t get hired, Justin quickly found himself behind on bills and with an eviction notice for his apartment.  While researching non-profits and veterans organizations in San Diego, Justin came across Interfaith.

“I saw the website, called, and came in for an appointment two days later,” said Justin. “This place has just helped me so much. Interfaith has given me everything I needed.”

After being set up with a case manager, Justin was moved into one of Interfaith’s veterans apartments, in addition to provided with gas cards to fill up his car, clothing vouchers and was even sent, at no cost to him, to receive his security guard card.  Today, Justin works full-time as a security guard and as of two weeks ago, has graduated from his program and has moved into his own apartment in Vista that he’s decorated thanks to a furniture voucher from Interfaith.

“It took me longer than I thought it would, but I’m in a good place now thanks to Interfaith,” said Justin.  “It’s just so great to have your own place again.  Now, I can have my daughter come stay with me.”

Interfaith Community Services is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit social services agency. For information on how you can contribute to the organization with either monetary gifts, in-kind donations, or through volunteer work, please contact Interfaith’s Chief Development Officer, Robert Adams, at radams@interfaithservices.org or by calling (760) 489-6380 ext. 206.