Formerly homeless Navy Veteran pursues a degree with help from a VA partner


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Navy Veteran and Miami native Ashley Esposito returned home from military service with hopes of becoming a chef. She comes from a family of chefs and was the cook for her squadron, preparing meals for 200 people by herself.

But upon returning home, Esposito experienced emotional and physical challenges. Her back began to ache, and she discovered, as a 26-year-old, that she had arthritis. Seizures led to an extended hospital stay, which kept her away from her job at the Copacabana. Soon, she found herself homeless for the first time.

“When you’re in the military and say you have housing problems, you can take out a loan and they’ll put you in base housing. There are so many options that you have as military personnel,” Esposito said. “When you get out into the civilian world, it’s not like that.”

Individual Attention

After three years in and out of homelessness, Esposito did the only thing she could think of to do: “I went to the VA and was like, ‘I need help.’” Through VA, she met Seth Eisenberg, president and founder of Operation Sacred Trust.

Operation Sacred Trust (OST) is a nonprofit organization funded by VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. Eisenberg described how VA realized that every Veteran needed individual attention, which helped spark a discussion to fund public-private partnerships like the one with OST. OST’s approach includes posing Veterans this question: “What do you want for the future of your life?” In Esposito’s case, the answer was getting a college degree and helping other Veterans experiencing challenges similar to her own.

Esposito endearingly refers to Eisenberg as her “guardian angel,” but Eisenberg is equally grateful for Esposito. When asked what he thinks when he encounters people like her, Eisenberg responded, “I think ‘Thank you, God, for bringing Ashley in.’ I think of the 20-plus Veterans every single day who never make it in.”

Esposito is currently employed by VA and working toward a business degree through Florida International University.

More Information


Written by VA’s Veterans Homeless Outreach Office

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Michael L. Thorn    

    Hello.. I am interested in this program. I am not sure I would. Qualify… I am paralyzed waist down. Is that a problem?

    Please respond… Yes. Or…. No…….

    Thank you….

  2. William r Anderson    

    Bill Anderson I have been going to Veterans Affairs (VA) medical for over 5 years and I have no definitive diagnosis for the cause of my debilitating muscle spasms.

    READ MORE AT THIS LINK

    https://www.facebook.com/bill.anderson.7140/videos/2652078301501598/

  3. Jason Miller    

    I’m a struggling Navy Veteran, who in 6 years I have held 6 jobs. The longest for 16 months and the shortest for 3 months. I’ve currently been unemployed since October 07, 2019. I have struggled with finding my niche work environment, getting to work on time, getting along with supervisors, and I’m extremely close to becoming homeless. I would love to find a job where I feel that camaraderie we share in the military. I would like pay that would sustain me living in Idaho and being about to go to Colorado Springs to see my kids frequently or just move back even though I don’t like area much. My youngest is 11 and really needs his dad! I really need help! This Seabee is sinking fast!

  4. Keita Cosgrove    

    I suffered from severe soreness in my right knee and swollen joints which eventually developed into such a painful condition, I could not lift my leg or put weight on it to walk. After trying several treatments, I finally went to a care clinic where x-rays showed advanced Arthritis/OA. My condition worsened with severe pains and stiffness, so a friend introduced me to Herbal Health Point (ww w. herbalhealthpoint. c om) and their Arthritis Formula treatment protocol, I immediately started on the treatment, few weeks into the treatment the pain and stifness were completely gone and I had regained complete use of my leg. The treatment totally reversed my Arthritis condition, since I completed the treatment 11 months ago I have not had any symptom or pain

  5. Theresa Chaze    

    I represent the unscripted TV series, Horses and Heroes. It will tell veterans’ stories as they work together to find new coping skills for their physical and emotional challenges. Additionally, veterans will be given priority for jobs in front of and behind the cameras. There are already many veterans who work in the entertainment industry. We will be giving the training and the experience to those who want new careers in good-paying jobs with benefits. I would like the opportunity to tell you more.
    Thank you
    Theresa Chaze

    1. Stephanie Gattas    

      Hi Theresa, I would like to learn more about the TV Series. Horses and Heroes.

    2. Jarad Armstrong    

      Hello, that sounds wonderful! I am interested in the program. Could you contact me please?

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