I’m a disabled veteran with a beat up back and worse hearing. I recently moved to Kenai via Sitka via the lower 48. Being a lifelong waterman I came here to cross off commercial fishing in Alaska from my “bucket list.” As many know it’s not easy to leave here once you arrive so 4-plus years later I’m still here and not planning on leaving.
Besides epic views and abundant sea and wildlife I also found a VA system that actually cares about veterans! With help from people like Michael Appleby at the Kenai VA Clinic and Sarah at Love, INC I was able to get me and my dog Lucy settled in to a new apartment.
While stoked for everything I realized I was still kind of screwed for a while. With no job, limited income and a body feeling much older than my 50 years I decided to hitch a ride the 3 miles into town to try and do something positive.
It was then the Big Guy smiled upon me when Craig Hamrick picked me up and gave me a ride. While conversing with Craig on the way to town he asked what I did and told him my story without trying to whine too much. When I asked him what he did, he smiled and said he and his group helped guys just like me out. He then took my number and said he would talk to Mike Totten (President, AVAV) and call me later that day and that he thought they might be able to help me.
Mike called that afternoon and when I told how stressed I was about everything he stated “Thom don’t worry, you’re a vet and we have your back!” Since then he not only helped with my electric bill and a portion of my first month’s rent but also helped with a few staples for my kitchen. In addition and most importantly the AVAV has assisted me getting to the doctors for a MRI and follow up X-Rays.
To summarize if it wasn’t for the AVAV I’d be in a world of hurt. However, now I’m getting the work done on my body that is needed and am looking forward to getting back on the water. So if you know a vet that needs assistance or just as importantly want to assist the Alaskan Vets Assisting Vets I totally encourage both!
You may see them in Soldotna with flags waving or can contact Mike Totten at P.O. Box 2347 Soldotna, AK 99669 or firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-598-9208.