When Woody came to Goodwill’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in 2016, he was facing some big challenges. He lived on the streets with his wife and stepbrother. He was arrested several times for “homeless crimes.”
While being served by the SSVF program, we learned that Woody suffered from severe traumatic brain injury from a gunshot to the head, which has left bullet fragments remaining 25 years later.
SSVF provided courtroom advocacy to help Woody with legal issues. SSVF Case Managers met with judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and probation officers to educate them about Woody’s traumatic brain injury. Woody had great difficulty maintaining appointments and court dates. While the legal system thought Woody was skipping his court dates, he was actually having difficulty remembering his appointments and getting transportation to where he needed to be.
Goodwill’s SSVF staff set up and provided transportation to evaluations and appointments. Staff also helped Woody develop a calendar system to keep track of his appointments, and this has helped him be successful. Because of this advocacy, the legal system recalled many of his warrants.
Woody’s injury made him eligible for Social Security, but he had never had an advocate to help him through the process. So, he went 25 years without assistance. Specialists on the SSVF staff helped Woody with his Social Security claim, and ultimately, Social Security awarded him over $24,000 in back pay, and a monthly award of over $700.
This was huge for Woody. He had been at zero income for 25 years and was hustling money off the streets, which had led to legal trouble.
SSVF helped Woody find his own home in Spokane. But, he eventually decided that if would he healthier for him and help him stay out of trouble if he were to move back to his tribe’s reservation in Montana. There, his family gave him a job training horses, which he excels at and enjoys. He is now living in a beautiful setting, in stable housing, doing work that he loves. He has a positive social support structure and a steady income stream.
We recently heard from Woody. “Without Goodwill, I would be in jail. You guys are the best!,” he said.