The Saratoga Sun -

They fought for our freedom ...

 

Erik Gantt

Staff Sgt. Glenn Worley, of Laramie, stands at attention, as Bobby Chitwood sings "A Soldier's Ballad" at last weekend's Freedom Fest.

Every day, on average, 22 United States military veterans commit suicide. Mia and Steve Roseberry are convinced much of this is because of the need for basic support such as housing, food, transportation and health care.

Mia saw a niche that needed to be filled when she began hearing stories about homeless and suicidal marine veterans. Steve and Mia live in Vista, Calif., and were accustomed to hosting friends of their daughter, Sara, who were on weekend leave from Pendleton and 29 Palms Marine Corps bases. Once Mia decided there was something she could do to help, she formed Wounded Warrior Homes, Inc. (WWH). Mia is the founder and executive director and Steve is the property revitalization administrator. They now provide transitional housing and other support services for veterans.

WWH has received over 155 requests for housing in less than two years; 22 of which happened last December with two on Christmas Day.

Operating solely on private donations of money, services and goods WWH now owns one house that can accommodate up to three veterans at a time and is close to having a second house. The houses are located on two-thirds of an acre which gives the residents some privacy. As an added bonus, the property is within 45 minutes of a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, the Veteran Services Coalition, and many other support facilities utilized by the veterans in San Diego.

The Roseberrys were in Saratoga last weekend to attend the Third Annual Freedom Fest at The Yard, which was held in support of WWH at the behest of Bobby Chitwood. Chitwood has been working with WWH since being asked by Sara Roseberry almost two years ago.

Sara met Chitwood in Sheridan, Wyo., at a concert and dragged him on to the dance floor only to realize later in the night that Chitwood was one of the headlining performers. After overcoming her embarrassment, she asked if he would be willing to support WWH in Wyoming and he said he would do anything he could for them. Chitwood now proudly displays a WWH banner at his concerts around the country.

The Roseberrys think it is important for people to realize it can take up to two years for Veteran's benefits to begin after soldiers have returned from duty. It can become hard for vets to keep going to the VA and eventually give up saying "this is as good as it gets".

Erik Gantt

Mia Roseberry, founder of Wounded Warrior Homes, addresses the crowd at Freedom Fest. Chris Shannon, organizer of Freedom Fest, presented Mia with at $2,500 check Saturday at the concert.

"Many of them left for a reason. They didn't have an education or a future, they just wanted to serve their country. Then two weeks in to a deployment they step on an IED (improvised explosive device) or go on 10, 12, or 13 deployments and want to come home," Steven said. According to Mia, when they get home they have to ask themselves, "Where am I going to stay, how am I going to eat tonight."

The goal of WWH is to provide housing and food, but they have also paid for car repairs, car insurance, found legal assistance and physical and mental medical health services for their residents. If a resident has to go in for residential care at the VA hospital, they don't lose their bed at WWH. Rebuilding trust has become a focus of the organization.

None of the veterans who have received assistance from WWH thus far are from the San Diego area, in fact, many are from small towns much like Saratoga.

Steve said that when the guys come to them they are distrustful, scanning the environment for potential dangers, but the trust develops. "They become our family," he added, it's a challenge."

 

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