Dusty Bieniek knew transitioning out of the military would require some planning and flexibility when it came to his professional career. He didn’t, however, expect that finding safe and affordable housing would prove to be just as challenging.
“When I finally found a job after retiring, it required my family and me to move to Norfolk, Virginia,” Dusty said. “I’d lived off base before, but the housing market was a big surprise to me.”
According to U.S. News & World Report, Virginia ranks fifth among states with the highest average rental prices. As Dusty and his family looked for the right place to call home, what little savings they had quickly ran out.
“A lot of places were looking for a near perfect credit score with a couple months advance pay,” Dusty said. “A lot of soldiers in the Army are living paycheck to paycheck and just can’t do that.”
Without his retirement check or disability payments, Dusty said his family had no income while they waited for him to begin his new job in Norfolk. What little money they did have was from the Army’s travel advance but that — too, was quickly dwindling.
“Eleven hundred dollars a week, that’s what kind of broke the bank for us,” Dusty said.
Running out of money and options, Dusty reached out to USA Cares.
With approval of his case, Dusty and his family received assistance that is keeping his family safe and together in a hotel until they move into their apartment in early November.
“It was such a huge relief,” Dusty said. “It is so amazing to have an organization like (USA Cares) out there that is just there to help during trying times. I wish there were more organizations that did this for veterans.”
Dusty served his country honorably for more than two decades in the Army. When it was finally time to move on from the military, he said he was glad USA Cares was there to help bridge the gap.
“As a family, we’re very thankful,” Dusty said. “I know we don’t have to pay it back, but one day we want to. It won’t be to pay it back, but just to pay it forward to the next veteran who needs it.”