Finding hope after hitting rock bottom

Veteran’s Leadership Program restores hope.

Kelly is a former military veteran who faced depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when she returned home. She went into a downward spiral, engaging in criminal activity and drug use. As time went on, her husband and son left her. When Kelly became involved in an abusive relationship, she hit rock bottom. She gave birth to a daughter and knew things had to change.

Kelly discovered help through Veteran’s Leadership Program (VLP), a United Way of Southwestern PA funded partner. VLP supported Kelly through court hearings, rehab, recovery from domestic abuse, and more. When Kelly finally removed herself from the abusive relationship, she and her two-year-old daughter were left homeless. Thanks to VLP, Kelly and her daughter were able to find transitional housing.

Kelly’s life had taken a turn for the better. “I felt so undeserving, but they lifted me up and gave me hope for a better life,” Kelly shared. “They were patient with me. They took their time with me and no one was trying to push me,” Kelly explained. “If I needed anything, clothing, Christmas and birthday gifts for my daughter, they were there. Most important, I was in a safe home. There is no price I can put on that.”

Today, Kelly is living on her own with her now five-year-old daughter. More than two years sober, Kelly is rebuilding her relationship with her son, who is now 11-years-old. While she is still on disability from PTSD, she styles hair and recently started painting.

“I attend narcotics anonymous just about every day, and VLP checks in on me every couple weeks,” Kelly said. “I am healing. I have self-respect today. I’m in a good place thanks to United Way and VLP.” Kelly encourages others who may have fallen on hard times to reach out to United Way’s 2-1-1 help line and find the support they need to get them back on their feet. “There is hope. Unhappiness is not permanent. United Way is there to help. That is amazing to me,” she said.

For more information about United Way’s work to support Financially Struggling Families, visit