Army vet James Gallegos had been living in a garage for years when a court finally ordered him to leave.
Faced with life on the street, he turned to Veteran Service Officer Reymundo Borjon, who referred him to the Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN).
Staffed by veterans and military family members, VPAN provides “battle buddies” to help veterans and their families in the U.S. access services provided by Los Angeles County departments, nonprofits, the VA, and Los Angeles City programs.
In addition to connecting callers with housing, health care, financial, legal and employment advice & assistance, VPAN also makes clinical professionals available to assist those struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues.
With help from his battle buddy and several others, Gallegos found the help he needed from the County Departments of Mental Health and Military & Veterans Affairs, the Long Beach VA Medical Center, the nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless, Vet Hunters, and Supportive Services for Veteran Families.
“It’s this kind of intricate effort requiring so many players that VPAN peers are being called to lead, literally on a daily basis,” Department of Military & Veterans Affairs Director James Zenner said. “Success by definition is a team effort.”
Gallegos celebrated his birthday soon after signing the lease to his new apartment. It was the first birthday he’d celebrated in a place of his own in more than 20 years.
To connect with a veteran or military-related family member, call the support line available 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, including holidays, or go to www.dmh.lacounty.gov/veterans/.
This support line is staffed by LA County staff and volunteers who are veterans or military family members.