“I was still suffering from some traumatic events that happened to me while I was enlisted, and I had a new baby on top of that,” says Johnson. “Due to pregnancy and delivery issues, not to mention my daughter was premature, I exploded. I couldn’t deal with my reality anymore and had a severe mental breakdown. I lost both of my decent-paying jobs and lost touch with reality. I just wanted to sleep the days away. It was a very dark and difficult time in my life,” says Johnson.

A. Johnson, served in the Navy and Navy Reserves from 2009 to 2015. Because of you, she now lives in Bedford, TX with her four children. “We have a park and a fishing pond within walking distance. We can walk around in the evening with the kids so we can work out,” says Johnson. “This has been refreshing. And it really helped me being here,” she adds.

Her Story

Johnson’s life had been settled, secure and self-sufficient. While working as a UPS supervisor and for Blue Cross Blue Shield, the birth of her daughter triggered post-partum depression, which only added to the volatile emotions she already was experiencing because of an earlier trauma.

It spiraled out of control a few years ago. Ms. Johnson’s relationships began suffering, including connections with her son and her partner. Unable to lean on her mother or siblings for housing, she landed on the streets, seeking refuge at the Dallas shelter. Living conditions were tough. “It was difficult because the place was not very clean, it was community showers so there wasn’t a lot of privacy,” says Johnson. “They said they vetted a lot of people, but in my opinion, that didn’t mean that they weren’t predators,” says Johnson, who adds that shelter clients also stole.

Because her daughter was so young, Johnson says the 1-year-old wasn’t aware of what was happening. “She did cry a lot, and I definitely delayed weaning her from her pacifier and bottle so we both could cope through that difficult time,” says Johnson. Johnson also found out she was pregnant with her twin sons. “It was embarrassing and difficult, because mothers almost all the time get the blame shifted to us,” she says. “I just felt so guilty for holding onto my trauma for so long and passing my trauma down to my kids. I swore to myself this would never happen again.”

While living in the shelter, Johnson reached out to the VA for assistance and began to get counseling and healthcare. She also was able to speak with someone from the Veterans Benefits Administration. “I was able to get the ball rolling on some of my benefits and talk to somebody about everything that was going on,” says Johnson. “It got a lot better after that.”

The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program — which combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless Veterans with the VA’s case management and clinical services — stepped in and helped Johnson obtain the desperately needed benefits she required. “She did everything she could to make sure that I was not homeless again,” says Johnson. Through the HUD-VASH program and with the assistance of her caseworker, Johnson and her children moved into their Bedford, TX home in December 2020.

“This program saved my life,” says Johnson. “It helped me be accountable and get the help that I really needed, and that in turn opened up more doors for me to continue to be successful so that homelessness doesn’t happen to me or my children again.”

Johnson says she appreciates the HUD-VASH program and other housing advocacy programs like Veterans Matter. “Opportunities like these allow veterans to not feel so worthless and that they don’t matter,” says Johnson.

“Now we are in a four-bedroom house. We have room, we’re being treated with respect and dignity,” says Johnson. She shares the home with her 19-year-old son, a daughter, 3, and twin sons, 15 months.

“Homelessness is not always preventable, but when we’re going through it and we get the help we need, we can get over a lot of things,” says Johnson. “I just appreciate you guys for caring.”