Homeless veteran moves out of transitional housing and into her own apartment with support from HVAF

Lannette H., 45, a Birmingham, Ala., native is used to keeping her head above water. She joined the Navy in 1989, unable to swim.
Photographed left to right: Alison Hughes,
HVAF Case Manager with Lannette H.,
homeless veteran

“I was chatting with recruiters and next thing I knew I was in the Navy and had to learn so much in a short period of time,” says Lannette.

She spent one year in Naples, Italy, in the position of postal clerk, but she left one year later when she became pregnant.

“I chose the role of postal clerk because I thought I would be selling stamps, but I worked in the warehouse,” says Lannette. “It was a male-dominated role and the guys did not want to work with me, but I lifted boxes and drove a 2 ½ ton stick shift truck so I held my own.”

In 1991, she gave birth to her first child. During that time, she realized she had to provide for herself which is something she had not done in the past. She had become accustomed to others taking care of her and had become dependent on family and friends.

In 2005, she became homeless when she was unable to take care of herself. She was going through a second divorce and suffering from depression.

She stayed in and out of homeless shelters and also stayed at friends’ apartments.

In September 2015, she learned about HVAF housing and services and moved into the Moreau apartments.

She also attended the annual Stand Down hosted by HVAF.

“Seeing all of these veterans in one place brought me to my knees in tears. It was a very emotional experience seeing all of these organizations under one roof offering programs, services, and goods to homeless veterans and I was proud to be a veteran,” says Lannette.

At the Stand Down, Lannette received clothing, kitchen appliances, and made friends.

She would need all of these items and more. In November, Lannette moved into her own apartment.

“I was so scared to leave the comforts of HVAF and all the veterans who I had met there. My Case Manager, Alison Hughes, helped me tremendously in that she listened and didn’t judge me and I have told her some pretty terrible stuff about myself,” says Lannette.

Alison also took Lannette to a furniture store to help her pick out items to furnish her own apartment.

This month, Lannette is settled and comfortable in her own apartment. She is enrolled at Ivy Tech and will graduate with an Associate's Degree in May and is working part-time.

A homeless veteran turns her life around with help from HVAF

A Case Manager at HVAF helped connect an Army veteran with the resources she needed after being unemployed for eight months. 

Anita M. joined the Army when she turned 21 for free room and board and a chance to travel. Two and a half years later she was pregnant. Then, as a result of unemployment, she became homeless.

Anita completed basic training in Leonard Wood, Missouri, then traveled to Denver, Colorado with her fiancé. The couple later had three children. Anita says she suffered from physical and emotional abuse in the relationship, but stayed because of the children.

Her hardships continued after the Army.

She couldn’t support herself. She ended up on the streets, becoming a statistic as a homeless veteran.

“As a result of the abuse, I suffered from depression and anxiety,” says Anita.

She moved to Puerto Rico in 1982 after she got out of the Army.

“It was a hard life and I was living on $200 each month while supporting three kids. At one apartment she had no water, heat, or electricity.

In 1987, she filed for divorce and moved back to home to Indianapolis.

Anita quickly found happiness serving others through her work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). In 2015 she lost her job. At this time, she knew where to turn for help after learning about the organization from a friend.

She learned about a job fair through an employment specialist at HVAF. Now, after eight years of unemployment, Anita accepted a job as a CNA in October. She says it offers better benefits.

“I am in a better place and I am thankful to have a roof over my head,” adds Anita.

But thanks to HVAF, an organization that provides transitional housing, programs, services and basic needs for veterans, social worker Alison Hughes was able to help Anita put her life back together.

A fulfilled promise

When Cheri Weisheit’s father, Byron Kent Maxfield “Kent” passed away of pancreatic cancer he had lived in the same house for over 14 years. It was the house where so many memories lived with Thanksgiving and Christmas’ around the dinner table for 28 family members, a cross he would hold that would be passed around the table, Indianapolis Colts parties, as well as sitting on the back patio watching sunsets. In the weeks and months after he passed, Cheri says it was hard to be in the house without him. Every corner was filled with his life – his photo albums, books, and clothes.

“There was a part of me, I think, that wanted to leave the house the way it was, a perfect time capsule,” says Cheri.

She asked herself many questions: How can we change this house where my father was living? How can we give a single thing away?

The answers came down to a promise that Cheri made to her father in which she fulfilled. He asked that his clothing be given to homeless veterans.  Cheri had heard about HVAF through her father’s friend.

Cheri walked into HVAF carrying 10 large bags of clothing in honor of her father, and she felt emotional but thankful that she was able to give back.

“My Dad started hospice care about 8 weeks prior to his passing and actually helped to box and bag a large portion of his clothes that were donated,” says Cheri. “It is meaningful to know that his clothes will go to the men and women who have served our nation.”

HVAF provides housing, programs and services, and basic needs to homeless veterans. We accept gently used clothes, food, and hygiene items.

“My father wanted to go back to Vietnam with love in his heart in hope to heal old wounds. With help through his friends, church and Global Missions, he was able to go back to Vietnam, not once but twice, on a mission to help support orphanages,” adds Cheri.

Cheri fulfilled her promise to her father.

Faith-based organization serves veterans at HVAF

Pam Thacker began volunteering at the young age of 16. To Pam, volunteering was a cornerstone of life - a way to help those going through difficult situations, lift them up, and give them hope. Alongside fellow members of New Hope Presbyterian in Fishers, Ind.Pam leads a group that serves HVAF each year. She uses her passion for serving veterans at HVAF by providing a delicious brunch as part of the church’s annual “Day of Caring”.

“It's important to give back to our community, and to our veterans in particular. The freedoms we enjoy today are because of their sacrifice and service to our country,” says Pam.

A team of eight church embers came out to HVAF and prepared a Sunday morning brunch for our veterans which included breakfast casseroles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit. The opportunity to say thank you to our veterans with food and fellowship at HVAF is something they look forward to each year. New Hope's Day of Caring is now in its 6th year of giving back with approximately 400 church members serving 30 different organizations in the Greater Indianapolis community.

“Spending time with the Veterans strikes a chord with me because my father served in WWII, and remained in the Army Reserves for 32 years - retiring as a Colonel. Dad passed away eight years ago. I am very proud of him, and I know  that he would be pleased to see that we are reaching out to our veterans,” adds Pam.

At HVAF, Pam saw firsthand the struggles veterans’ face that include employment, addiction, or securing permanent housing. She says volunteering is a way to and her members cares. The third Sunday in September is reserved for New Hope's Day of Caring brunch at HVAF.