Nov 01Get to Know: U.S. Navy Veteran April
Mercy Housing Lakefront resident April is a veteran of the United States Navy. She hails from Indiana and joined the Navy after high school. She planned to make a career in it. Unfortunately, while serving as a rescue swimmer air crewman, she was injured during a special operations training course. She was hospitalized, and the injury resulted in long-term health issues. “It has impacted my life. My injuries are progressing the older I get.” At the same time, her father’s health began to decline. She ultimately made the difficult decision to leave the Navy to spend time with her parents before her father’s death. She received an honorable discharge and notes that if not for these circumstances, “I would’ve been a lifer.”
After her father passed away, April moved several times, finally planting roots in Springfield, Illinois. She dealt with personal challenges, including alcohol use disorder and legal issues. She ultimately ended up losing her driver’s license to a DUI. “Seems like I couldn’t get ahold of my finances, I couldn’t get ahold of my medical issues, I couldn’t get ahold of family issues, to try to figure out how to get myself back up on my feet again.”
Mercy Housing Lakefront Cannon Place
April had difficulty finding safe, stable housing and experienced homelessness. The Department of Veterans Affairs in Springfield told April about Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Cannon Place in Danville, Illinois, a community for homeless veterans and their families. April moved into Cannon Place in the spring of 2021. “I came into this property with five bags after losing a two-bedroom home with a full basement. I was very, very grateful for what this organization did for me. It changed my life.”
April notes that having access to a safe, affordable home near the VA, where she receives services, has been incredibly important. “Not only did it give me hope, but it gave me some strength to know that I was safe, and it gave me opportunities to address my medical and therapeutic issues, my housing and my family issues, my legal issues.” April participated in a Compensated Work Therapy Program that the VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville offers and just applied for an internship with the National Cemetery Administration. She also has an emotional support cat and enjoys connecting with her neighbors at Cannon Place. “It’s nice to be around some guys who understand – they understand the hardship of getting out of the service.”
April has faced discrimination in the past and shares her appreciation for both the Cannon Place site staff and the VA, “the fact that Mercy Housing and the VA are ok with the LGBTQ issues, that helps a lot of things also,” and that while she has faced discrimination in the past, “It’s nice to have a property management team that doesn’t discriminate against you.”
April has participated in onsite Resident Services programming at Cannon Place as well, including a cookout held in spring 2022 with the Danville High School’s Future Problem Solvers. She also enjoys playing Bingo with her fellow veterans and is in contact with services partner Adopt-a-Soldier. April said that she is looking forward to more community-building events.
In addition to applying for jobs, April is now focused on recovering her driver’s license and putting her legal affairs behind her. “My mother has shared with me that she is very proud of what I have decided in my life that is important again and that I have gotten my life together.”
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