With a husband who is a Veteran and stepson currently deployed to Afghanistan, Denise Martino can relate to the unique needs of Veteran families. As Intake Specialist for Operation Sacred Trust, she’s often the first point of contact for struggling South Florida Veterans who reach out with the hope of ending homelessness.
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Operation Sacred Trust, “OST,” funded through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, helps provide housing stability for homeless and at-risk Veteran families in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. OST is a collaborative effort of Carrfour Supportive Housing, PAIRS Foundation, Henderson Behavioral Health, and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida. The program served more than 1,000 Veterans and their family members in South Florida since starting-up in September 2011, including ending homelessness for hundreds. FatherhoodChannel.com is pleased to profile some of the OST professionals on the frontline of ending homelessness for America’s Veterans.
Operation Sacred Trust
What inspires you to serve Veterans?
My husband is a Veteran, my stepson is currently in the military, I also have a long list of family members who have served in the military (Desert Storm, Vietnam). I can easily understand and relate to the unique needs of Veteran families, such as help with their physical and mental injuries, relationships, employment and/or navigating the benefits claim process.
What is a story serving a Veteran that stands out for you?
We provided a Veteran, young single mom, with money for rent. I had created a connection with her over the phone and asked to be present as we gave her the check. She was so thankful and full of tears … she had us all crying. She shared how she grew up underprivileged and wants to give her kids a better life. She said she was attending school and doing her best to raise her kids by giving them the life she never had growing up. It was very touching!
What’s your hope for the impact of your work?
My hope is to end homelessness among Veterans; to make sure we connect the Veterans we assist with the benefits and services they need and deserve.
What’s one of the hardest lessons you’ve learned?
I did not realize we had so many homeless and low income and/or unemployed Veterans here in Dade and Broward counties. Through my many years of case management and social services experience, I’ve learned that the homeless population is one that society tends to want to hide away and isolate. In many ways this also applies to the Veteran homeless population.
Something else I’ve learned, with my stepson recently having been deployed to Afghanistan and how unemployment continues to be a problem here, I realize how a Veteran returning to civilian life can easily find themselves needing assistance from Operation Sacred Trust. For example, if a Veteran returns with a war related illness or injury, lack of skills, lack of resources and family support, it can lead to having many problems from relationships to financial. Luckily, my stepson has a loving home to return to as he figures out the next chapter of his life.
|Job Title:||Intake Specialist|
|Company Name:||Carrfour Supportive Housing
Operation Sacred Trust
|Work Phone:||855-778-3411 x801|
|Email Address:||Click to Email|
|Address:||200 S. Park Road, Suite 455|
|Hollywood, Florida 33021|