United States Marine Corps Veteran and Elmsford resident Robert served his country proudly and worked hard all his civilian life. But when his job at a country club came under new management and his unemployment claim took several months to come through, he was facing financial problems that threatened his ability to stay in his studio apartment. Working at a series of low-paying hourly jobs wasn’t enough to help him make his rent payments. “I made arrangements with my landlord for partial payments,” says Robert, “But when I was two months in arrears, he set a deadline. After that, I would be out.”

Realizing the clock was ticking, Robert went to his local veteran’s center where he got a contact for Westchester Family Services. “By this time I was desperate,” he recalls, “I couldn’t even qualify for food stamps because my unemployment benefit was too high. Luckily, Westchester Family Services referred me to The Bridge Fund.” Through The Bridge Fund, Robert got the help he needed. “They went through my whole story, step by step, and were able to help me out with a loan for the two months’ rent that I owed,” says Robert. “And we discussed how, once I was back on my feet, I would agree to repay the loan.”

Robert’s service to our country has also been key to helping him turn the corner: he was encouraged by his Bridge Fund caseworker to inquire about the VA’s new program for unemployed veterans called Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) and it paid off. Says Robert proudly: “I applied and was approved to attend the College of Westchester to get an Associates degree in medical systems management.” As long as veterans are in school full-time, the program pays them a stipend. Robert is now in college and will get his degree next year. In the meantime, he is seeking part-time employment to augment his VRAP stipend. “If it weren’t for The Bridge Fund,” he says “none of this would be possible. I would have been on the street.”

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