As one of 100 Veterans across the country who received a car through Progressive’s Keys to Progress 2016 program on Veterans Day, Alison Lysne has more than one reason to celebrate. A Marine Veteran and nurse, this single mother of three is overcoming unemployment and homelessness.
Lysne’s story of becoming homeless is one shared by many Veterans. When she moved in summer 2015 to be closer to her youngest son — a Marine stationed in Yuma, Arizona, preparing for a second deployment in the Middle East — she was not prepared for the difficulties she’d face in finding employment.
“My plans took a sharp turn shortly after arriving in Yuma as I struggled to find a job. I watched helplessly as my savings and unemployment benefits dried up along with my retirement account,” she recalls. “Unemployed and unable to pay rent, I found a bed at the local homeless shelter.”
Determined to find her own place to call home, Lysne dialed the number on a brochure for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing program, known as HUD-VASH. This program — a partnership between HUD and VA — provides subsidized housing vouchers, case management, and supportive services to help homeless Veterans find and stay in permanent housing.
Within weeks of completing the required paperwork, she moved into a studio apartment. Then, in July 2016, Lysne was approved for the VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program, which helped her get an internship conducting outreach for VA’s Yuma Clinic. The VR&E program helps Veterans and Servicemembers improve their skills, develop their resumes and train for jobs so they can achieve gainful employment.
Without a car since April 2016 and unable to afford a taxi, Lysne took the bus to and from her internship. However, being without a car made it difficult to fulfill her intern duties, since she needed to meet frequently with community partners, many of whom were not accessible through public transportation.
So when Yuma Clinic outreach coordinator Delphine Hamilton heard about Progressive’s Keys to Progress 2016 program, she immediately thought to nominate Lysne.
“She works hard and is loyal,” Hamilton said, “and she cares deeply about the Veterans who walk through our doors — and even those who don’t.”
Programs like Progressive’s Keys to Progress show how federal agencies, community-based organizations, and businesses can work together to help unleash Veterans’ full potential — empowering them to move forward with their lives after experiencing hardship.
For more information about Keys to Progress, go to www.progressive.com/socialresponsibility/keys-to-progress.html.
Holly Hirsel, a social worker, employed with VA’s national Homeless Program Office where she works with the community engagement team to develop and maintain partnerships with public and private entities to advance the availability of resources to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. She holds a master’s degree in social work from Case Western Reserve Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and an undergraduate degree from Cleveland State University majoring in both psychology and social work.