END OF YEAR REPORT
You have heard the Pastors say it in church during prayers and maybe other places, so what is Loudoun Veterans and Family Support (or as we call it, LVFS). This marks the end of the second full year of LVFS operating within Loudoun County and consists of Community Lutheran Church (CLC) in partnership with the Falcon’s Landing Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA-FL). Initially, MOAA-FL envisioned their desire to be an active participant within Loudoun County to assist veterans through an established ecumenical organization. Thus, they approached veterans within CLC (and the pastors), and LVFS was born! The first year for LVFS-CLC was primarily a year of organization and developing guidelines of operation. However, there were opportunities to provide assistance to several veterans who required anything from help with past rent bills, all the way down to the purchase of a bicycle for getting to the store for food!
Gradually, the needs of veterans in the county began to increase in volume and complexity. Many of the requests exceeded the modest funds available through grants and individual donations. In these cases, financial assistance was supplemented by other Loudoun County Veterans groups, such as, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) (Post 1177) and American Legion (Post 2001) working in consonance with LVFS and our County’s Government
To date, we have collected over $20,000 in donations and grants and have spent almost $15,000 in assisting Veterans and their families within our communities. During 2017, LVFS has provided financial service to sixteen Loudoun County veterans in the sum of $9,477 from grants and donations. These financial service grants ranged from a high of $2,548 for replacing two toilets, and repairing a bathroom floor and a kitchen cabinet due to water damage, down to a low $112 to supplement an unexpected shortage to make a mortgage payment. In addition, in twelve of the sixteen cases LVFS was supported in part by other veteran organizations such as VFW and American Legion. This collaboration of veteran support organizations is skillfully orchestrated by Mr. Thomas Grant, Jr., the Veterans Services Coordinator for the Loudoun County Family Services Office in Leesburg, VA. Each county in Virginia and Maryland along with the District of Columbia have a Veterans Services Coordinator, and this network services the estimated 1,156,847 veterans in the DMV area.
A heart-warming story of one of our assisted veterans during 2017 occurred in November. It involved Mr. Grant and a 10-year medically retired female U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Airborne Jumpmaster. During a cooling mid-November day, when it was beginning to show signs of impending colder weather, this female veteran walked into Tom Grant’s office in flip-flops and a tee-shirt, asking for help in obtaining a coat for the coming winter months. Looking at the young girl, who was six months pregnant and financially unable to afford a suitable coat, Tom was immediately touched to the point he literally removed the coat from his back and gave it to her! She was grateful for his generosity and vowed that he would be repaid for his kindness. When Tom went home and told his wife what he had done she immediately went out and replaced his L. L. Bean jacket for him!
Tom then contacted Dennis Siepmann, LVFS Steering Committee member to put the wheels in motion for additional assistance for this veteran who had fallen on hard times. Dennis contacted Peggy, the manager of Motherhood Maternity, and secured a nice, warm winter coat for the veteran, Kendell Y.! With additional funds from LVFS, Peggy supplied Kendell with enough maternity clothing to take her and her newborn through the winter months! Kendell knows she is having a little girl, and has already chosen the name of Lillie Marie – to arrive right around Valentine’s Day in 2018!
The big surprise came for Tom Grant when Kendell and her little service dog, Buddie, showed up in his office in December. With a Letter of Appreciation to Tom, MOAA-FL and CLC, Kendell returned Tom’s L. L. Bean jacket and gave everyone a big smile, and THANK YOU for all that had been done for her! In her Letter of Appreciation, Kendell wrote:
“I am a wounded warrior and served with the Army for over 10 years. I recently moved to Virginia due to personal hardships and did not have the resources to purchase a coat. I was fortunate to be introduced to Dennis Siepmann by Thomas Grant when I was in a time of need and the kindness I have been showed has been both humbling and an honor to receive.”
To all those in attendance that day in Tom’s office to witness this moving event, it signified the true meaning of the Spirit of the season! And for our MOAA-FL and LVFS-CLC groups it signified a validation of our work with the Loudoun County veteran population. Now all Tom has to do is explain to his wife why he has TWO L. L. Bean jackets!!!
L to R, Jim Mullen (LVFS (MOAA-FL)), Tom Grant (Loudoun County – Family Services), Kendell Y. with Service Dog, Buddie, Dennis Siepmann (LVFS), Don Poorman (LVFS-CLC)
Additionally, here are little stories on some of the other sixteen veterans we assisted this year:
Michael K. honorably served as an aviation mechanic in the Navy during the 90s. Unfortunately, he developed a heart condition after his military career that limits his employment opportunities, but he is currently working two jobs. We fixed his truck (he has to travel to VA hospital in Martinsburg, WV), moved him into a cheaper apartment, paid back rent, and we are currently trying to find him an opportunity to increase his skills and employment opportunities.
Frank W. served during World War II as an engineer in the Pacific. Being a distinguished gentlemen in his 90s, he needed assistance with his home and also other medical necessities. Again, the veterans organizations worked together to purchase a lift chair for him (thanks Dave Douglas (VFW)!)) and then we worked with Paul Davis Restoration (who worked with other businesses and grant foundations) to put a new roof on his home, paint it, and better weatherize it for the winter.
Leonard F. served in the Army after World War II for several years, worked for many decades and is currently retired. Living on a very limited income, he needed repairs on his vehicle (so he can get to his medical appointments in Martinsburg, WV) and assistance in paying off medical bills for his wife.
Currently, LVFS is looking at changing our organization to one that not only provides emergency, crisis support to Veterans (e.g. prevent eviction) to one that provides a level of sustainability empowerment like improving skills, training, or even budget management. It is valuable to help a Veteran during a crisis, but we want to prevent that Veteran from being in that position in the first place. It goes back to what we believe and the tagline of our organization – “Vets serving Vets.”
FROM MOAA-FL AND LVFS-CLC – MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!