When a disability left a lifetime Marine homeless and unemployed, VFW kept the hope alive

Russel Garcia

Russel Garcia began serving this country as a United States Marine at the ripe age of 19, and continued to serve throughout his adult life. Now at age 57, Garcia has found himself jobless and on occasion, living in his 2002 Ford SUV.

Garcia received an honorable discharge as an E-4 from active duty in 1980, but continued to serve when he re-enlisted with the USAF Reserves Security Police in 1985. He was deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991. He transferred to 4th Combat Camera in 1995 and qualified as an Aerial Flight Examiner for 4CTCS in 1999 where he was deployed to missions stateside and abroad.

Garcia deployed to the U.S. Embassy in Iraq in 2005 for ground and air missions from Northern to Southern Iraq. When he returned to the U.S. in 2006 he was diagnosed with service connected disabilities at Loma Linda Veteran Hospital in California.

He worked a few jobs here and there, but earlier this year, found himself jobless. Since then his disabilities have become more severe making it nearly impossible to work. Since he has been out of work he has fallen behind on his car payments, and was threatened with repossession.

Sleeping in his SUV and fearful of losing his only mode of transportation and shelter, Garcia was desperate for help.

That’s when he found out about VFW’s Unmet Needs program through which he applied for financial assistance in order to keep his automobile.

“The VFW really came to my rescue, they approved me for enough funds to get the lawyers off my back and I was able to acquire affordable monthly payments to keep my SUV,” said Garcia.

Luckily, he was even able to get some housing through the VA’s Valor House program. “Now I don’t have to sleep in my SUV at night, because winter is here,” Garcia said.

Since receiving the financial assistance from VFW Unmet Needs and the VA, Garcia has gone back to school for a degree in Environmental Technology. He is even able to relax a little and enjoy doing some of his favorite things like grilling, instead of worrying about a place to sleep at night.

“There are not enough good things I can say about the VFW, the great people working there, and the much needed help I was able to get. They really made a difference in my life,” concluded Garcia.



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