Now I Just Want to Take Care of My Family
This is the quintessential description of a Veteran: A Veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount of up to and including their life.
The first time I visited with Kane, that quote came to mind. He was the visual definition of a soldier. I could envision him on the field, in horrifying circumstances, fighting for me and our country.
We met at McDonald’s. I had already read his application for the rent subsidies partner program through our 501(c)3. It appeared on paper pretty obvious that he would qualify, but an interview is a mandatory part of the process. Kane was average height, obviously disciplined about staying in shape, muscular with arms covered in tattoos. Kane arrived in sweats. However, very clean and well-kept to the point of being meticulous. He was a little shy, spoke softly, but communicated with good eye contact. I assumed his shyness was probably more of a realization of how important this meeting was for him, In addition, I could sense he was maybe a bit apprehensive or overwhelmed in the beginning.
I began by acknowledging our gratitude for his service and asked him to just let me know what was happening in his life now.
Kane spoke first and proudly of his family. He spoke of his children and highly of his wife who was a stay-at-home mom. He had perfectly established the importance of his family.
Kane had been deployed twice into the Afghan and Iraqi wars. He didn’t dwell on the horrors of war but described his military job as a front-line combatant. Other than those words, I could see that the military life was a distant past to him. His focus was on now. He looked straight into my eyes when he said, Now I just want to take care of my family. I was breathless for that meant coming from a man who at one time was willing to put his life on the line for our country.
I thought to myself what a blessed family indeed to have this man at the helm.
Kane returned to the US less than a year earlier and began the arduous task of readjusting to civilian life. He found an apartment for him and his family. Kane began the job search. He, without hesitation and without self-defeating pride, took a job at minimum wage. In addition, got another part-time job. Both jobs allowed him to pay his bills. It wasn’t great money. However, it was enough to keep their heads above water while he continued his search for work as a security agent. His wife was taking online courses to train for work that she could do from home. They had plans for when times would be better.
Kane was meeting his bills and his rent payments until Obamacare mandated that those working 30 hours a week or more were considered full-time employees. Furthermore, employers would be required to provide health insurance to them or pay a penalty. So, his 39-hour week (originally established to keep him under 40 hours so his boss wouldn’t have to pay insurance) suddenly became 29. At minimum wage, having your hours cut by 25% is devastating.
He struggled for months. Trying to balance his bills and his income the best he could, but it finally caught up with him.
Kane was indeed approved for our subsidy program, and he couldn’t say ‘thank you’ enough. It was such a relief for him to know he could provide for his family. They could stay in their apartment and relieved that eviction was no longer a threat. Every month Kane continued to pay his portion of the rent. Every single month without fail, he texted me ‘Thank you, thank you!’
If you are like me when I hear stories like this one, it is impossible not to feel the immediate need, and more importantly desire, to help. You can help deserving families just like Kane’s by donating to R Empowerment.
Taking care of those who take care of us should be an automatic response to a growing problem as our courageous warriors return stateside to adjust to civilian life and take care of their families.
If you are a veteran yourself who has had a more comfortable transition back to civilian life and fortunate to be professionally employed,
Please remember your military brothers and sisters as they struggle to find balance.
As a donor, I know it is sometimes tempting to wonder if your donations really make a difference. Please remember, when these men and women sign up to protect this country, protect me and you and our families, they don’t first ask whether each of us individually deserves it. They don’t research who we are or wonder if we will treat this blessing of their service with love and respect. They just do it. Let’s make it our duty to share that same generous attitude when reaching out to help them. Let’s just do it!