USA Cares

Frank Whitehead

Frank Whitehead knew his days in the Army National Guard were coming to an end.

“I could barely walk with the pain I had in my feet and back,” Frank said. “But any time someone brought up leaving the military, I fought it.”

Frank enlisted in the Army in 2003 and was medically retired in February of 2021.

“Before I got out of the military, I received a proposal letter from the VA Saying I would have 100-percent disability,” Frank explained. “When I actually got out, it was changed to 90.”

At the same time, Frank’s spouse, who had been attending school under his GI Bill, was forced to withdraw for health reasons. The family was also receiving BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) before his retirement. With his new VA rating, the Whiteheads’ monthly income decreased drastically.

“My transition was horrible,” Frank said. “That’s putting it mildly.”

The Whiteheads decided their best option was to sell their home and move their six children into an RV to save money. Meanwhile, Frank struggled to find employment as a civilian.

“I thought my military experience was something companies would want, but they didn’t,” Frank said.

To him, the civilian world was a stark contrast from the military.

“That brotherhood/sisterhood camaraderie of ‘we’ve always got your back,’ it was nothing like that,” Frank said. “Everybody was just out for themselves.”

Soon the Whiteheads’ bills began piling up. It wasn’t long before the family car was at risk for repossession.

“If we lost the car, that would be it,” Frank said.

So, Frank began reaching out to VA referrals including USA Cares.

“Within a matter of days, my case was handled and my car was safe,” he said. “It was such a blessing to have that burden lifted off of me.”

With one less thing to worry about, Frank has been able to address underlying mental health issues through therapy.

“Depression, man, that thing is a beast,” Frank said. “I’ve cried every session. I never did that before, even when I was in the military.”

As Frank works to continue his transition into civilian life, he credits USA Cares with giving him a boost when he needed it most.

“It showed me there was still hope and not everyone is out for themselves, there are people that care,” Frank said. “I really needed that.”