My name is Elliott McKenzie. I am a 34-year-old Marine Corps veteran who served my country for eight years during the Iraq war. My issues transitioning back to civilian life became obvious as soon as I came home. A year after my discharge, I was homeless and facing a tough battle with PTSD, depression, traumatic brain injury and anxiety.
After another episode of violence, I found myself at one of my lowest points, on a 5150 hold at the VA hospital for posing a risk to myself and others. They helped connect me to U.S.VETS for housing and services. U.S.VETS put me in a transitional housing program, gave me all the support I needed so I could get better and set a plan for my future. Eventually, with the support of U.S.VETS’ workforce development program, I earned my associates degree and went on to earn my bachelor’s after years of continuing struggles and on-again, off-again school attendance.
As my life started to stabilize, the path to success opened up ahead of me. I returned again to U.S.VETS, but this time as an employee. When I first got here, I never imagined I would ever be sitting on this side of the desk, helping my brothers and sisters once they return. As a Veteran Talent Specialist, I now get to take my struggles and dark times, and use those experiences to connect with veterans that are in the same place I was when I returned home. I help them find their path and see that success can be in their future if they put the work in.
I sometimes wonder where I would be right now if I was never introduced to U.S.VETS. They gave me the tools I needed, such as housing, case management and workforce development, when I was ready for them. They were patient with my progress and they were there for me when I stumbled. My story is just one of many and an example of the life-changing impact U.S.VETS makes daily to help veterans succeed.
Please help U.S.VETS continue to support veterans no matter where they are on their path, they cannot do it without your support. Thank you for supporting U.S.VETS and veterans like myself that sacrificed everything to serve our country.
Veteran Talent Specialist
Career Development Initiative
U.S.VETS – Patriotic Hall
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