USA Cares

Chelle Thompson

When Chelle Thompson joined the Navy, she welcomed challenging work.

“I was an ABH, which is an Aviation Boatswains Handler,” Chelle said. “I pretty much did the chalking and chaining of the aircraft to the flight deck. I would climb under the helicopter and chain them to the flight deck.”

With the propellers still going, a 5-foot-11 Chelle had to be cautious around the aircrafts, and it wasn’t long before the physical toll of her work started affecting her.

“Being on the non-skid tore my knees up,” Chelle said. “I had shin splints and my back was messed up, too.”

When Chelle left the Navy after five years, she was pregnant with her fourth child and newly divorced.

“I didn’t bond with my son after I had him,” Chelle said. “I went into a deep, deep depression. I had a hard time adjusting to civilian life.”

As Chelle waited for 100-percent disability rating from the VA, it became apparent her family’s current apartment was not safe and they needed to move. At the time, her four children ranged in age from 4 to 12 years old.

“There was mold in the apartment, and it was becoming too expensive for me to pay rent,” Chelle explained. “So, I had no choice but to move.”

With intermittent pay from substitute teaching, Chelle knew she couldn’t afford moving costs. That’s when she reached out to USA Cares for help.

“They paid for my deposit and my first month’s rent,” Chelle said. “That was huge for me.”
Chelle and her children were able to move into their new home and are doing well. She is two semesters away from finishing her interdisciplinary degree and said her children are thriving.

“I’m not ashamed that I needed help,” Chelle said. “We all do at some point.”