Our “Boots on the ground” make the work we do possible. Lisa Dean, a Wounded Veterans Relief Fund volunteer and wounded veteran herself, understands this more than most.
Lisa enlisted in the U.S. Army from 1995 – 1999, and after a two year break in service, was selected to the Officer Candidate School just a few days before 9/11. She was branched to the Logistics Corps and immediately deployed to Iraq from 2003-2004 and again in 2008-2009.
Like many of our returning veterans, Lisa returned from service in a position of near homelessness. In 2014, she says she was embarrassed and ashamed to reach out for financial support. Wounded Warriors of South Florida helped her get back on her feet.
“I was treated with respect and compassion, and most importantly, without any judgment,” she says. “And I am indebted and honored to be an advocate for this organization and to the men and women of whom it supports.”
Now, Lisa is a volunteer for our organization as the VA Tampa liaison, and she actively advocates for Veteran organizations in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco county. She continually meets face to face with several social workers, case managers, and providers within the VA. Lisa also volunteers with the VA as a recovery coach by sharing her story with fellow Veterans who have experienced similar challenges. She helps both men and women by discussing her time in service and the challenges she faced, her coping skills and how she overcame the mental health stigma.
Lisa is able to reassure fellow veterans that it’s OK to ask for help. She understands firsthand that there is a community that genuinely cares and understands the trauma veterans have faced over the past two decades and the complications and timeframe with the VA claims process.
“I am in a position to help streamline the financial aid application process as well as being able to convey means for immediate financial assistance,” she adds. “The trauma and obstacles my fellow veterans and I have experienced are heart-rending, but we cannot live in the past, only ‘soldier on’ and have the attitude to move in a positive direction. This can only be accomplished by a caring, supportive community and the knowledge of its’ existence.”
Lisa will attend graduate school at George Mason University School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution Fall semester 2017.
For more information on how to become a part of our boots on the ground, visit our volunteer page.