The Salvation Army Liberty Program
The Salvation Army Liberty Program in Los Angeles helps OIF/OEF active duty, veterans, Guard, Reserve, and their families by providing individual, group & family counseling, a variety of services for children, help with living expenses, employment & education assistance, and many other forms of direct care for those transitioning out of the military.
Learn more about the Liberty Program from David Leonard, Program Coordinator, by watching the video below.
A Story of Hope
“I have to be strong- I will always see a brick wall- I have to climb over it, I can’t let it break me down.”
Wendell served in the military for 21 years, with deployments to Operation Desert Storm in 1991and Kuwait and Iraq from 2003-2004. Wendell watched over 52 soldiers in his unit as a platoon sergeant; 50 of them came home. With Bachelor degrees in Communications and Psychology, Wendell often used his knowledge as a way to reach out to his platoon and assess their emotional needs. But as for his own well-being, Wendell says the last tour “really broke me.”
Wendell never received a proper briefing prior to his discharge, and with his PTSD symptoms beginning to surface, he came home to start a life of drugs and alcohol. When he was by himself, the memories shook him. He delved deeper into drugs, began stealing from loved ones, and eventually became homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. As he says, “this was not the life I chose to live.’”
After going to the VA hospital, he came in contact with the Salvation Army Liberty Program, a Coalition organization.
“The Liberty Program really helped me. With the help of Taffy and David, I received help with housing. David helped me get my Section 8 and into a place.
They were there for me; they would just sit down and really listen to me. They got me connected to weekly group meetings with other vets. Taffy talked to me about reconnecting with my family. They helped me get back in touch with my daughter and helped me to reestablish a relationship with her.”
Today, Wendell credits the Liberty Program with helping him readjust to life after combat. “With their help, I’m still hanging on today. I’m able to say now that this is the life I really wanted to live.”
Wendell tries to use his war experience and his knowledge of Communications and Psychology as a way to reach out to other OIF/OEF vets that may have similar experiences with readjustment. “I see a lot of vets come back with the same problems, that’s not the way to go. I try to tell the guys coming home there is a way… if you don’t help yourself, they can’t help you. Today, in my life, I had to make a choice to better myself.”
Although Wendell realizes that his journey is not over, he recognizes “I have to be strong- I will always see a brick wall- I have to climb over it, I can’t let it break me down.”