Priority Veteran Aids Near Homeless Vet in Becoming a Lawyer

Today, Veteran Antonio Gray, a Jones Law School graduate, is a practicing attorney with Hampton and Ford in Montgomery, Alabama. But his story might not have been one of achievement because of the struggles behind his journey. “Without United Way’s Priority Veteran, I have no clue where I would be literally,” said Gray.

At 17 years old, Antonio Gray enlisted in the military. He served in Iraq from 2004-2005, including in the Battle for the City of the Dead, the first hand-to-hand combat battle since Vietnam. That changed the course of Antonio’s life forever.

At the end of his term of service, he received an honorable discharge – and treatment for PTSD and Adjustment Disorder. But not to be deterred by the traumatic effects of war, Antonio went on to complete college then enrolled in law school.

In his final year of law school, while preparing for the bar exam, Gray encountered some unexpected student expenses. Unable to work due to studying intensely 12-14 hours a day, he fell behind on his rent and was on the verge of eviction. “I called place after place offering services for veterans, but it was always the same answer,” said Antonio. “I just didn’t qualify for their services.” His last hope was Priority Veteran, a United Way program that serves homeless or near-homeless veterans.

Through Priority Veteran, Antonio was connected with case manager Nichole Zanders. Within days, she was able to pay his back rent and locate a more affordable, convenient place for him to move. Now he’s working as a trial attorney, lives close to his job, and his transportation barriers are eliminated.

His story was such a motivator for others, Antonio is featured in United Way’s 2019 Fundraising Campaign.

Priority Veteran Priority Veteran provides veterans with intensive one-on-one assistance to locate stable, permanent housing and links them to resources to gain the skills and knowledge to help them remain financially stable. Priority Veteran is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities for its Rapid Rehousing and Homelessness Prevention Program.

Case Managers help veterans with needs such as:

  • creating a Housing Stability Plan
  • accessing medical or mental health services
  • enrolling for veteran’s benefits
  • job search assistance
  • financial coaching
  • and more

In partnership with United Way of Central Alabama, Priority Veteran provides veterans across Alabama with federal, state, and local resources, linking veterans to hope. Priority Veteran began offering services to veterans in October 2013 with a $2 million Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Priority Veteran will reach out to more veterans and their families at the Veterans Day Parade in Birmingham, which begins at 1:30 pm on November 11.