Article contributed by Donna E. Deutchman, Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity.
A Window Between Worlds has been selected as a “best practice” and core required program in a new model to address the needs of veterans throughout the State of California. Habitat for Humanity, San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys and the California Department of Veteran Affairs are collaborating to provide low-income veterans with a homeownership opportunity which they would not otherwise be able to afford along with enrichment services specifically designed to empower veterans with the knowledge, education and social services they require to become healthy and self-sufficient. The goal is to leverage their homeownership into a better future for themselves and their children. Known as the Enriched Neighborhood TM model, this out-come based home ownership and supportive services approach is being replicated throughout California. AWBW has been selected to play a vital role in efforts to bring veterans together, reintegrate them with their families, address issues of PTSD and military sexual trauma, and emerge as stronger, more hopeful, more empowered members of our community.
Take the case of Byron R., a US Navy veteran serving in the Reserves who now owns a home and participated in AWBW through Habitat. This Chatsworth veteran notes that: “Every returning service member goes through a readjustment period.” About AWBW he notes: “At first I thought it was a little weird…then a simple project about talking heads got to some intense anger about my father who wants to be in my life for the first time, now after being absent for so long. ” Byron has been considering this art and keeps it and other AWBW projects on his office desk at the Vet Center. He feels: “Once I get over the anger, maybe we can have some kind of relationship.”