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JVS SoCal’s Veterans First Program Provided For Me and My Children

Jamie Kincaid came from a small town with few opportunities, so she created them for herself—first on her own and then more recently with the support of JVS SoCal’s Veterans First program for military veterans.

Highly motivated, Jamie made the decision early on to work hard and create a good life for herself. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Psychology and then a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Development. Coming from a military family, she additionally served in the Marine Corps for 10 years.

However, early in 2020, life presented Jamie with a series of seemingly insurmountable challenges, which nearly devastated her. Having recently recovered from breast cancer treatment, her now ex-husband and the father of her three children decided to move out of their home.

Suddenly, Jamie was a single mom and fully responsible for covering rent. She then lost her job as one of 30,000 employees laid-off from Disneyland, which shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jamie was unable to return to work in the medical field (where she worked prior to Disneyland) because of her compromised immune system due to cancer treatment. A technicality also disqualified her from receiving eviction protection, so when she couldn’t afford rent, she and her family faced housing insecurity.

“I have a master’s degree and I’ve never had any type of addiction or law enforcement trouble,” Jamie shares. “Yet, there I was homeless with no prospects. My kids were at home doing distance learning, and I was a single mom. There were not a lot of options out there for me.”

The tough circumstances she found herself in prompter her to call veterans resource numbers for help in connecting with community services. It turned out to be life changing.

Jamie found JVS SoCal Veterans First and quickly received much-needed help. “The program provided groceries for me and my children so I could use the remainder of my savings for other basic needs, while I focused on returning to full-time employment,” she explains.

Additionally, JVS SoCal turned her on to Housing and Urban Development-Veteran’s Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH), which got her family into a home, and then to the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP), where she accessed childcare so she could search for a job.

After receiving resume help from Veterans First, Jamie successfully landed a position with the Social Security Administration (SSA) in Santa Ana. A few months later, Disneyland reopened and offered her job back.

Today, Jamie works both jobs to make ends meet but hopes to advance and focus on her career at the SSA. Her kids are now 22, 13 and 11, and are doing well. “My kids are fed and have a roof over their heads,” she shares. “I now focus on the things I’ve done to show them determination and an unwillingness to give up.”

Jamie credits the assistance she received from JVS SoCal with having taught her and her kids the importance of helping people who are in need. They’re now working to create opportunities for others—through Jamie’s work at the SSA and through their time spent together with the Disney Volunteers program. “It gives us a sense of purpose,” she says.

You can help create opportunities for veterans like Jamie, too. Please consider donating here.