It is often difficult to admit that you need help, especially for veterans who have spent a significant portion of their life serving their country. Priority Veteran is a United Way program that exists to help those who have given so much for others to get back on their feet.
This statewide initiative has helped over 1700 homeless or near homeless veterans statewide, but programs managers say there are many more who can be served. They have redoubled their efforts and launched Project “No Stone Unturned”. Because they will be looking everywhere to find these veterans in need.
Emmitt Bryant, a veteran of the Marine Corps, ran into financial difficulties in 2016 and was less than a month from losing his house to foreclosure. He reached out to Priority Veteran on the recommendation of his Veterans Administration counselor. Priority Veteran case manager LaDonna Ford helped him keep his house and get back on his feet.
“I ran into a rough patch in November of last year. And I was trying to address it, but I had too much pride,” Bryant said. “I wasn’t going to ask anyone for a handout, or a hand up. December came around, and it wasn’t getting any better. In January I called Priority Veteran.”
Bryant is a veteran who went into the military at the age of 17, right after graduating high school.
“In my house, the way we were raised was that when you graduated high school you either go to college, you go to the military or you get a job. I didn’t want to get a job, and I didn’t want to go to college, so I went to the Marine Corps,” Bryant said. “When I went into the Marine Corps, I kind of shocked them, because that’s an air force family. But I did well. I embraced it, and I think it was meant for me.”
Bryant said that the most common reason veterans might not seek help is pride.
“But this [Priority Veteran] is not a demeaning or a belittling program,” Bryant said. “It doesn’t make you any less of a man than you are. It is a helping hand up, not a handout.”
Priority Veteran is not solely for veterans in shelters or forced to live on the streets. Anyone who does not have permanent, safe and stable housing can qualify for assistance.
PV wants to appeal to friends, family members, and co-workers to encourage those in need to connect them to Priority Veteran by phone at 866-460-3827.
“It was a positive experience, it was a helpful experience, and it will probably be with me for the rest of my life,” Bryant said. “Priority Veteran is a tool, so use it. That’s what it’s there for. Help Priority Veteran Help you.”
Priority Veteran serves former servicemen and women and their family members throughout Alabama with offices in Birmingham, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, and Tuskegee
The need continues to help more veterans like Bryant.