Category Archives: Stories

Meet Gerald

Mr. Kaufman is a volunteer who believes in “veterans helping veterans.” As Service Officer, accredited by The American Legion, Department of Florida and the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, he works closely with veterans in need of assistance and volunteers his time every week on the campus of Keiser University.

Mr. Kaufman has filed multiple claims for compensation for veterans attending classes at Keiser University. He even assisted with transportation arrangements for an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran. Mr. Kaufman waited for the young veteran to be seen at the Orlando VA Mental Health Center, sitting with him while he waited. He then took him to Lake Baldwin to receive his prescribed medications and then back to campus. “This veteran is a straight “A” student with a bright future but had no idea where to turn to get help with his PTSD, said Mr. Kaufman.   “He is now completely enrolled in the VA health care system and in the process of filing his claim for PTSD through my office.”

Mr. Kaufman states, “This is what we do in the Legion, we take care of our veterans and their families. It is not just filing claims for VA benefits but assisting veterans in the use of their VA home loan benefits, counseling, family emergencies, emergency financial aid, and scholarships for school. I am here for the veterans and their families.”

Meet Domanique

Domanique served her country. She received dynamic training in the Navy and earned two advanced degrees. But civilian life proved difficult. While pregnant for the first time, Domanique faced a high-risk pregnancy resulting in six months prescribed bed-rest to prevent premature birth. Halfway through her pregnancy, Domanique lost her job, her resources were depleted, and her wedding plans were suddenly halted.

As she mourned the end of her relationship with the father of her unborn child, Domanique was forced to focus her attention solely on her pregnancy. After being confined to a hospital bed days before delivery, Domanique was suddenly faced with additional complications. As a result, she required a blood transfusion. During this critical time, she was issued an eviction notice. This new mother, requiring highly specialized medial care, left alone to deliver, support, and raise her child was in jeopardy of losing the safety and security of her home.

Domanique, having never before received public assistance, reached out to multiple organizations without success, until finding PROJECT: VetRelief. For Domanique, it was more than the financial support that kept her from eviction. It was the “can-do attitude” of the PROJECT: VetRelief staff – answering questions, providing guidance, and maintaining contact. In her own words, “I appreciate the help I received because there were no strings attached and I was never disrespected or made to feel inferior. PROJECT: VetRelief supported me, a female veteran, who was working her life plan that fell apart before her very eyes.”

– Domanique, Navy Veteran

Meet Steve

Steve is truly a man without a country. He came to the United States with his family when he was just two years old. Born in Germany to Ukrainian parents, he was not considered a German citizen, as his parents were not German. Ukraine does not claim him as a citizen either, because he was not born there.

The United States is the only country that Steve has ever known. Yet even after being drafted into the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and seeing combat in Vietnam, he is still not considered a citizen. Steve is a lawful permanent resident and although his path to citizenship should have been easy, after several unsuccessful attempts to naturalize over the years, he nearly gave up on his dream.

His hope was renewed, however, when he heard the story of another veteran who attained citizenship after a long battle. Steve began working with an immigration attorney and, with the help of PROJECT: VetRelief, he now has an entire community supporting him. In Steve’s words, “now, all of the sudden, I have my own little gang behind me.”

The process for foreign-born U.S. residents who served in the military to become citizens is complicated. But Steve no longer has to walk that path alone; he has an entire Legion of support at his back, advocating for him, and cheering him on.

– Steve, Army Veteran

Meet Jeff

We first met Jeff in a restaurant. An Army pack hung from the back of his wheelchair as he dined on pizza with his family. Never one to pass up an opportunity to thank our soldiers for their service, our Florida American Legion, Department Adjutant approached Jeff to say “thank you for your service.” Jeff was given a business card that evening and the directive to reach out, should he ever need anything.

Three months later, Jeff called. You see Jeff was a veteran of the United States Army who sustained a combat related injury to his leg, causing severe nerve damage and limited mobility. He was sent home and for six years Jeff saw doctor after doctor (16 doctors to be exact). But received no relief from the constant pain.

Then, just as he was approaching the point of loosing hope, Jeff visited a new doctor who offered a high probability of living pain free and the possibility to walk again with a below the knee amputation. Jeff opted for the surgery, which would take place just one week later. With an out-of-town surgery date quickly approaching and a family to take care of, Jeff needed help. PROJECT: VetRelief stepped in to assist with travel and meal costs allowing his family (parents, wife, and three children) to remain at Jeff’s bedside.

– Jeff, Army Veteran