After completing four years in the Army, including deployment to the Middle East, Gabby Cornett says the challenges her brother faced reintegrating into civilian life helped her understand those many other Veterans struggle to overcome following military service. Through Operation Sacred Trust, OST, funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, she is helping homeless and at-risk Veterans such as Vietnam-era Veteran Glenn Merryman, below, reconnect with themselves, loved ones, and access support to rebuild the foundation of their lives.
OST is a collaborative effort of leading community nonprofit agencies, including Carrfour Supportive Housing, PAIRS Foundation, Henderson Behavioral Health, and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida. The program serves more than 1,000 Veterans and their family members in South Florida each year.
FatherhoodChannel.com is pleased to profile the OST professionals on the frontline of ending homelessness for America’s Veterans.
Operation Sacred Trust
What inspires you to serve Veterans?
My brother was at one point, a successful civilian. After his deployment to the Middle East, he lost the ability to reconnect with that part of his life; he wasn’t a civilian anymore, even though he was now thousands of miles from the battlefront. He didn’t know how to transition, where to turn, or the resources available to him. He is not the only one out there; there are tens or hundreds of thousands more. With each Veteran we serve, I think of my brother and the challenges he faces, hoping to help others overcome the battles they often experience within themselves.
What’s your hope for the impact your work has on the lives of Veterans?
I hope we are able to make a lasting, positive impact for the Veterans we serve by helping them reconnect with themselves, loved ones, and the assistance from the VA and other resources that can help them rebuild the foundation of their lives.
What is an experience serving a Veteran family that stands out for you?
One of our clients had just been released from the military. Very eager to get home to his family, he was shocked to learn that things had changed while he was away. He arrived at the Operation Sacred Trust office with his young daughter; a homeless veteran family that urgently needed help. When a recently released Veteran with a child is facing or experiencing homelessness, our entire team goes into action to make sure they are off the streets or out of their car — where so many are living — as quickly as possible.
What connection do you have to the military, Veteran or homeless community?
I’ve always hoped my brother would have a happy, fulfilling and loving life. After seeing the impact on him from four years of Army service, I’ve questioned if that was still possible. Many within the Veteran community need help after their military service ends, in all aspects of life. Every person, especially the Veterans who have served our country, should have the opportunity to have a happy, fulfilling and loving life. I’m grateful that OST is there for the Veterans in our community, helping them access the support, encouragement and help they earned when they need it most.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned from your work helping end Veteran homelessness?
It is such a profound sacrifice these men and women make for us; we deeply appreciate everything they’ve given to keep us safe by protecting our country, families, each of us. To show our gratitude, we need to welcome them home with open arms, warm hearts, and access to the resources they’ve earned. So many return with visibile and invisible wounds that can make it a challenge to reach them. Knowing how much we care for them, respect, appreciate and honor them, and that we are here to help them help themselves makes a difference.
|Job Title:||OST Program Support|
|Company Name:||PAIRS Foundation
Operation Sacred Trust
|Work Phone:||855-778-3411 x802|
|Email Address:||Click to Email|
|Address:||200 S. Park Road, Suite 455|
|Hollywood, Florida 33021|