In a program mostly inhabited by men, Kishauna gives witness to a different Vet LIFT candidate:
Twentysomething, female and homeless. A woman with great potential in need of stability, medical intervention, and effective guidance.
Kishauna didn’t get that from family in her rural Oregon hometown. With a parent in prison, the other in a radically conservative cult, and an assortment of younger siblings, she coped with the demands of fanatical, abusive adults from an early age.
She didn’t get it from the military, where toughness and compliance made her an accomplished sailor, but the off-duty culture brought huge personal issues and unraveled her fragile psyche. After nearly two years of increasingly difficult service Kishauna received an honorary but heartbreaking discharge.
She didn’t get help for another seven years as she landed jobs but was unable to hold them, fell into at least one abusive relationship, and stayed in awful places of last resort. Eventually it was almost impossible to face the day.
Kishauna learned about St. Vincent de Paul’s VetLIFT program while staying at a homeless shelter. The program lasts for up to 24 months and helps veterans locate permanent housing, acquire increased income or job skills, and have support in recovery. She applied for the program and was approved. Now she’s part of a ready-made community of veterans unwilling to see a comrade fail. She sticks with her medication, takes part in recreational and community-service activities, and works steadily toward a positive future.
Today Kishauna is collected and cheerful. She recently moved into her own apartment with her beloved cat. She is sharpening the sewing skills that once earned her the title of county Junior Homemaker of the Year and plans to take classes in interior design at Lane Community College.
“I have a place to live; I have my cat; I’m no longer hopeless,” she said. “I have gotten stable and actually have hope for the future. That’s really nice.”