U.S. Army Veteran Rhonda has a gentle demeanor and a strong voice. And if there’s one thing she’s passionate about, it’s standing up for others.

There have been many times throughout Rhonda’s life when wrongdoings have been overlooked, ignored, and swept under the rug. She felt pain and suffering from a very young age, and when no adults stepped up for her, she kept her feelings inside and forced her focus elsewhere.

“People just didn’t believe you back then. I felt so alone.”

Rhonda carried pain and suffering with her for decades. She suppressed her memories deeper and deeper within her as time went by. Feelings of loneliness and depression were building inside of her, even if she didn’t realize it at the time. Despite her feelings on the inside, she felt joy when she was able to serve as a voice for others because she knew what it felt like to have no one on her side.

Later in life, Rhonda worked at a factory. She felt pride serving on the Women’s Committee, Veteran’s Committee, and the Civil Rights Committee. When a coworker needed a voice, Rhonda used hers, and she finally felt like she mattered.

“No one stood up for me, so I do it now for others.”

But after a routine check-up led to emergency heart surgery, forcing Rhonda to medically retire, she was devastated. She felt different after being in the hospital, her breathing and strength were not the same as they once were. Rhonda began to feel lost again without the routine of her work, and she became more and more depressed. She no longer could rely on work to serve as a distraction from her past.

Rhonda felt her spirit break, and she tried to take her own life.

Within three hours of calling for help, she was transported to a PTSD clinic. After emergency care and support at the clinic, Rhonda moved to a Volunteers of America veteran’s facility.

It’s there that you gave her hope. When she walked through the doors, Rhonda knew she was in a place that would help her heal, and she didn’t feel so alone anymore.

“I never thought depression would happen to me. It crept up on me. But there is hope. There is a light at the end of the darkness.”

Rhonda felt as if a weight was lifted by the support of her PTSD group, therapist, and her fellow veterans.

“It’s so much easier to talk to a veteran because, we just know.”

“Having the support of Volunteers of America has taken the worry away from me. I feel hope and encouragement. When I talk, I can feel the other person cares for me, and that makes me feel safe.”

Today, Rhonda continues to be a light for others when they need it, and she can do so knowing she has the resources she needs to take care of herself, too. Rhonda looks to the future with ambitious eyes as she attends school for medical billing and coding and works to become a Peer Support Specialist. She is excited to use her experiences to help others.

Because of your kindness, Rhonda lives and breathes hope in her everyday life.

Be the light in the darkness for other veterans like Rhonda.

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