Brightside: Zion House Helps Vets and Their Families
You may be able to identify with struggling financially from time to time, but for some people that struggle spirals out of control.
That’s what happened to Mike Tucker.
He served as a marine, but ended up losing it all.
“I was living in the woods in a little small tent. I came from a good family. And for some reason or something it all fall apart. It crumbled.”
Tucker says his Marine training helped him survive in the woods for eight months.
“I was waiting living in tents. Mosquitoes eating me up. I’m like Lord please get me out of here, I’m not used to this. I don’t want to be here I want to be in a house. I want to take a bath.”
Tucker says he had to dumpster dive for food that restaurants would toss out at night.
Thankfully, a friend told him about a program over at St James AME Zion church that could help.
It was a life-changing match up for him.
“I waited it out, out of the storm and here I am, I’ve got a lovely place. I’m happy and all the veterans that I see. Its joys of tears. They’ve got me giving food out of my house.”, says Tucker.
But Tucker is just one of hundreds that this program has been able to help.
The Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program pairs vets with an advocate who helps with housing, finding a job, paying utilities and even helping their families.
Counselors guide vets through the process of applying for aid so they can lead a more productive and full life.
Doctor Lore’ Chambers says she was inspired to start the program.
“We realized there was no assistance on the Eastern Shore. No grants were coming this way to assist the veterans. So we decided to write the grants for supportive services for veterans families and try to get resources on the Eastern Shore.”
The program has been a huge success.
Chambers says they’ve been able to help about 500 people since it started up over five years ago.
“A lot of our vets have a lot of issues. The HVRP program is to help those veterans find work and provide wrap around services for them.”
Pastor David McClendon says there’s no way this program would be such a success without Doctor Chambers’ expertise and vision.
“As I said she’s the nuts and the brain this whole situation here at St. James Zion House.”, the pastor says.