Carin Rhodes is a veteran of the United States Army, a recipient of Soldier On’s outreach services, and, most recently, a peer specialist for Soldier On’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in eastern New York.
Carin graduated from Taconic High School in June of 1996. Six months later, she enrolled in the National Guard in North Adams and served there for 2 ½ years before joining the U.S. Army. Carin spent a total of 8 ½ years on duty and was stationed in Hawaii and Georgia. While stationed in Hawaii, Carin married and she and her husband had three children. In May 2005, she discharged from the Army in order to focus more on her education and children. She worked as a government contractor and began school full-time in July 2006. In June 2010, Carin graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Mental Health.
In 2011, Carin separated from her husband and she and her three children moved back to Massachusetts. Shortly after, her husband joined the family and they bought a house in Pittsfield. In April 2013, however, the two ended up divorcing. Carin got a job at a social service agency in Pittsfield but the pay, her savings, and her education benefits weren’t enough to sustain their living situation. She was receiving no financial help from her husband and she couldn’t afford the rent by herself. That’s when Carin sought help from Soldier On.
Carin visited the Soldier On site in Pittsfield and spoke to Dominick Sondrini, Supervisor of Soldier On’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) New York State outreach programs. Dominick gave Carin the organization’s intake number, 1-866-406-8449, and scheduled an appointment with a case manager. Carin met with the Soldier On/Springfield Partners case manager at the local library. The following day, Carin was contacted and told that she was approved for financial assistance with a security deposit and the first month’s rent for an apartment that she had found on Craigslist upon eviction from her previous home.
Carin’s new home has 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, a fenced in backyard, and a basement with laundry. She and her three children were able to move in to their new home in December of 2013.
Carin is now employed at Soldier On as a peer specialist in eastern New York. She is currently enrolled at Cambridge College for her Master’s Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse and expected to graduate in December 2014. Soldier On is paying for Carin to finish her Master’s Degree and helping with her internship hours. Carin was also given a new vehicle with her position and says she loves her job. In her peer mentor position, Carin conducts follow up meeting with veterans, and organizes community outreach such as work in soup kitchens, shelters, and donation centers.
Carin takes her experience as one of learning and discovery. “Never judge a book by its cover”, she learned. Looking back on her experience with Soldier On, Carin summarizes, “I am grateful.”