Veterans Help Veterans Overcome Loss, Start on New Financial Path

By Shari Biediger

“Our goal is to remain close-knit, to remain open and honest with one another, with everybody focused on continuing to build and strengthen our family,” says USAA member Shawn Hoskins, who is working with his wife, Melinda (far right), and children, Heaven, Breiah, Zailene, Harmony and Shawn Jr., to heal their relationships and financial stability. 


SHAWN HOSKINS IS BLUNT when asked where his life was headed in 2012.

“My wife and I would have divorced, and I would have committed suicide,” he says. “I had nothing.”

Barely floating after three military deployments, a sudden death in the family, a divorce from his first wife and financial challenges due to unemployment and post-traumatic stress, the former Navy petty officer and 44-year-old USAA member couldn’t see a way out.

“We were in a very bad place — emotionally, spiritually and physically,” Hoskins says. So when he got the call that he, his wife and four youngest children had been accepted into the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, he cried.

Founded in 1925 with a mission to help military and veteran families, the VFW National Home helps active-duty service members, veterans and their families get back on their feet. Those who qualify reside at the sprawling, 629-acre National Home for up to four years while they receive education, food and child care, all funded by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, its auxiliaries and other donors.

For the Hoskins family, their 2½-year stay at the National Home was not only a temporary release from the financial burden of rent, utilities and other daily bills, but it was also a time for healing.

“We went through the (financial literacy) program, and it really works,” Hoskins says. “It made us smarter with our money and helped us to budget better. We’re still doing those things today, a year later.

“Another huge key to my success was the peacefulness there. That helped me get myself grounded emotionally because I didn’t have to worry. My kids were able to be outside. It’s that peace of mind.”

As you go from active duty to veteran status, USAA can help.


The VFW National Home established a helpline in 2008 to provide veterans with resource referrals and advocacy services: 1-800-313-4200.


Photo by Mary Pencheff


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