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Out of the hole

Catholic Community Services addresses problem of veteran homelessness

Catholic Community Services’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families offers help to homeless veterans. Photo credit: Catholic Community Services

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"Catholic Community Services (CCS) was paramount to pull me out of a suicidal hole," the retired Army veteran said in a CCS press release. "I asked for help, and help was given. I cannot believe that these programs are out there for veterans."

After 20 years of service, the Whidbey Island native found the transition from the military to the civilian world difficult.

"Many veterans don't know they need help until they can no longer access it. We were great soldiers, but that doesn't translate to civilian resumés," he continued. "The adjustment is hard when you are a leader and you get out and you go from being in a key position of responsibility to square one."

He began to drink heavily, and he soon lost his wife, young daughter and housing.

"I was at rock bottom, riding on the bus day and night, homeless with all that I owned with me."

Trying to find a place to live proved to be an insurmountable challenge.

Living on an academic stipend, Brandon did not have the funds to provide for the first month's rent and deposit. His attempts to explain his situation to landlords didn't work out.

Rock bottom of Brandon's hole was inches away when the direction of his life changed for the better.

Referred by the Veterans Administration (VA) to CCS's Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), Brandon began to work with a case manager. Within two-and-a-half-weeks, he had found housing and financial assistance.

CCS also helped him with essentials like kitchen items and connected him to a nonprofit that provided several pieces of free furniture.

"SSVF offers hope for homeless veterans moving from homelessness to housing," wrote Patti Spaulding-Klewin, CCS/Family Housing program manager, in an email.

"In addition, case managers navigate veterans towards needed services and resources to help address other needs."

Approached in 2010 to participate in a pilot program, CCS began to serve veterans experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. Today, CCS's involvement extends to Pierce, King, Snohomish, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Wahkiakum and Cowlitz counties.

"Our focus is on identifying every homeless veteran in our communities and providing them with the services to help them," added Spaulding-Klewin.

In Brandon's case, success has been achieved.

Today, he is taking classes at Tacoma Community College with a focus on the humanities. His educational goal is to graduate and then help others who find themselves in a situation similar to what he experienced.  

"CCS did a tremendous job in helping me get back to being a productive member of society," he concluded. "Reaching out for help was the key component."

For help or more information about Catholic Community Services Supportive Services for Veteran Families, visit or call 253.383.3697 (Pierce County); 360.753.3340 (Thurston County); 360.377.6136  (Kitsap County); 206.323.6336 (King County); or 425.257.2111 (Snohomish County).

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