Prior to arriving at the Veterans Assistance Foundation (VAF), I was incarcerated at Chippewa Valley Correctional Treatment Facility (CVCTF) where I successfully completed all the requirements of the Earned Release Program (ERP). By voluntary participation in the ERP I regained control of my life and was released six months early on October 13rh, 2010. I spent nine days at a Temporary Living Placement in Appleton, Wisconsin, where I went through extreme periods of anxiety due to the drastic change in my living environment.
I learned of the VAF from Mr. Powers, the Veterans Representative at CVCTF and was referred. On October 21, 2010 I arrived at the VAF not knowing what to expect but grateful to have people to talk to again. I soon realized that I was in a safe caring environment where I could continue my aftercare and reintegrate back into society. I was physically ill due to my treatment for Hepatitis C, mentally out of balance, but spiritually sound.
The VAF gave me the opportunity to freely open myself up to choices for personal growth, and accept responsibility for my continued recovery. Physically, mentally, and spiritually I have made an amazing recovery. I have come full circle and transformed into balanced person.
In closing, I want to express my sincere thanks to all the Staff at the VAF and the VA for all their help and support. Without the help of staff my recovery would not have been possible.
My name is John S, my military background consists of an enlistment into the U.S.
Navy during which time I served four years aboard a Ballistic Nuclear Submarine, the
USS ALASKA (SSBN 732) GOLD CREW, from 1989 to 1993. Upon receiving an
honorable discharge and making the decision to not reenlist, I entered back into society.
Several ups and downs soon resulted, because of my inability to make sound decisions
due to my alcohol and drug abuse and trying to adjust to civilian life. After minimum
success in the home improvement industry in the area of sales, I found myself without a
job and homeless on June 10th of 2011. My journey in life soon found me arriving at the
Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI. I went through a 90 day program for
addiction and homelessness. When my 90 days had concluded, I again faced the
possibility of returning to the streets, or living in a homeless shelter as my only options.
I didn't give up and began doing some research. I found a facility in Tomah, WI, the
Veterans Assistance Foundation, which has a successful track record in assisting veterans make
a positive instead of a negative outcome in concerns to the obstacles they were facing. At
first I was somewhat hesitant since I was born, raised and accustomed to a big city and
here was Tomah with just 9,000 people. My immediate thought consisted of a question
vital to my desired career path. Could I return to a career field that I had left back in the
late 1980's (Radio Announcing) in a small town such as Tomah. To my surprise my
apprehension turned from skepticism to hope when I discovered that many Vets were
finding new opportunities in the career fields of their choice.
The VAF soon began assisting me in constructing an inward desire to be more attentive and focused on my short and long term goals. William Melton my case manager worked hard in showing me what paths were available to me and was able to instruct me in the proper tools to use in defining a secure direction in which to head in. Jeff Ard, the employment specialist with the VAF not only educated me in the area of putting together an outstanding resume, but also made key phone calls to radio stations in the area on my behalf.
All of this resulted in me returning to a field I solely missed and love; for I have recently been hired on
with Magnum Broadcasting, working part- time with one of their radio stations WXYM Mix 96.1 FM. I
cannot properly find at this time the appropriate words of gratitude for the care and assistance given to
me by the VAF here in Tomah. I will always be eternally appreciative for all they have done for me.
Thank you again for all you have done.
Veterans Assistance Foundation - Tomah, WI
By J.J. S
Hello, my name is Jeffrey. I am 44 years old. from Chippewa Falls. WI. and I am a United States Air Force Veteran. I would like to tell you a little story about how I ended up as a Resident at the Veterans Assistant Foundation (VAF) in Tomah. WI.
Basically, before coming to the VAF, you might say that "I had it all" ..a great wife, job, family, I owned my own small business, just made Master Sergeant in the USAFR. built a half-million dollar home on the Chippewa River, and had all of the "toys" to go with it. Then within one year (2004). everything went to hell... I had lost it all. but still had my IRA's. So. I bought a new condo and loved on with my life Well, it did not take long.. I began to drink more than ever, and before I knew it—I had went through all of my money (that was to be used for retirement), and decided it was time to do something .. but what?
Over the years from going to the VA in Tomah for my physicals. I had heard that they had a substance abuse program there, and a place called "Building 407" So. before I left to go serve jail time for my 3rd DWI. I called the VA substance abuse program, explained my situation, and asked them many questions. Later that day they called back; and they said that they had me scheduled to come in for treatment after jail, and they had talked to the VAF and arranged an interview for me with Andrew (staff person at the VAF). Therefore, after my interview with Andrew it was now set for me to go to treatment, and then directly to that "crazy Bldg. 407".
On November 2, 2010 I had arrived at that "crazy Bldg 407" (I only call it that because of what I have heard) Well, let me tell you... from the time that I walked through those elevator doors onto the second floor of the VAF: I saw smiling faces, and nothing but great things. the place was very neat, clean, and well organized one of the residents kindly directed me to the main office, and they told me to just have a seat in the security office, and your Case Manager (Peggy) will be right with you Peggy promptly processed me in. introduced me to all of the friendly staff members, and then escorted me to my new "home". I finished the rest of the in processing later that day, and was told to meet with Peggy the next morning in her office. We met the next morning, and here is where all of the fun begins... First thing; she had me fill-out a "goals sheet" (a list of everything that you want to accomplish while you're here) such as... any medical/dental needs, finding a job, getting a checking/savings account, getting your driver's license back, legal help, or anything else that they may be able to help you with. So now. my journey began...
Over the months. I stayed very-very busy going from one appointment/task to another All of this was being
accomplished while under the caring and watchful eye of Peggy my Case Manager In addition, they gave me
enough freedom to feel good about myself while getting these things done, but the helpful staff member's where
always close by to guide me in the right direction if needed. Then one day. Peggy hands me an eligibility' form from
the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs and has me fill it out . low and behold; I was eligible for a full grant
to go back to college.
So here it is... September 19. 2011. I have successfully completed my goals (although some are ongoing), and I will graduate from Ashford University with a bachelor's degree in Organizational Management (3.7 GPA) in the fall of 2012. This would not have been at all possible if not for the existents of the VAF in Tomah. WI and it's dedicated people: from the founders of the foundation, to all of the current employees that "make it happen" on a daily basis!
I would like to personally thank Peggy and Karla (because I talk to them on a daily basis), and even
single member of the VAF. I cannot list all of the names, but without each of you doing what you do best, the VAF would not be as successful as it is today!
Having lived here several months at the VAF I had a chance to reflect on what got me here and also to
see that even though I have lost a lot both in material things and a lifestyle that I will probably never live
again. I have lost a job that I worked at for 30 plus years and living 58 years young. Starting over is not
easy. Actually it's downright depressing working small jobs here and there wherever I could find them
wasn't working and soon there was not a home to go to and sometimes nothing to eat.
One day listening to the radio, someone looking for some temp work, I called them and got the job. A
month later the boss talked to me about my plans for the winter because she knew of my current
situation. She mentioned the VAF, and because of my military past, she told me I could get some help there. It was now November and not want to struggle through another winter again, I took her suggestion. I am grateful beyond words for all the help I've gotten at the VAF. I am especially grateful for the person who is so instrumental in getting me here (D. Gilbertson) she was truly a gift, a friend, so selfless when it comes to helping someone.
Argele B (B.J)