Service to Help Veterans Get Back On Track

Nov 13, 2012

Today’s post is about Kelly Landry, who is an AmeriCorps VISTA member assigned to the Community Blueprint Network at American Red Cross South Florida Region (FL) through the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps. In her assignment as a service to the armed forces associate, Kelly coordinates resources and services that better respond to the strengths and needs of the military community in South Florida.

When Kelly Landry met Capt. Juan Fernandez, he was lost. After retiring from 20 years in the Marine Corps, including time in Afghanistan, he was facing a disease that left his vision impaired, depression and feelings of isolation. To help him get back on track, Kelly knew what she had to do.

She and her team had to ask him to serve.

Kelly, an American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps member with American Red Cross South Florida, said she has long felt a responsibility to help veterans and military families. “My dad is a combat veteran and raised me give back. I know it’s a cliché, but I believe in the idea of ‘home of the free because of the brave.’ Veterans gave everything and we are obligated to support them in return.”

Her work, part of the Community Blueprint, focuses on three important areas: homelessness, reintegration and volunteerism. She said this work deals with the continuum of challenges returning veterans face and solving each bridges the gap between a life in the military and finding a successful, satisfying place in the community.

“Having even one veteran on the street is unacceptable. After that, we focus on helping veterans find the right job for their skills, following up with them throughout their employment and finding ways for them engage with and serve others in the community,” Kelly said. “These men and women just need a little boost to get on their feet. From there, the potential is sky-high.”

For Capt. Fernandez, opportunities to serve other military families as a Red Cross volunteer gave him a reason, he said, to “keep fighting.” He’s now employed as a Junior ROTC leader, has connected to other veterans and is seeing improvements in his health.

“All he needed was to be asked to help,” Kelly said. “Our veterans are an untapped resource who naturally want to serve. It’s up to all of us to make sure they get the opportunities and support they need.”