I've been telling Jim, "Yesterday was better than the day before, and today was better than yesterday. As long as we keep that going, we'll be fine." Today was definitely better than yesterday (which was great in and of itself).
I'll start with the fact that today we got an angel sent to assist: Brandi Lynn. She was on the phone first thing in the morning, working the VA, trying to get movement on Jim's behalf. She then started lobbying car dealerships, asking them to help get Jim a safe, affordable, reliable vehicle, and I have NO doubt we'll be reporting on the results of her efforts soon. She was instrumental in connecting with those of you who messaged me with questions, offers of help, and suggestions while I was with Jim from noon to 7:30pm today. I cannot thank my USMC sister enough. Brandi, you absolutely rock and I thank you so very, very much for your help!
The first stop today was the much anticipated visit to another USMC sister, Samantha from the office of Senator Sherrod Brown, whom I contacted at the suggestion of Mary Jo Kilroy (made right here on this page). I never would have thought to contact a US Senator for this kind of situation, but if you know of any veterans who are struggling, please reach out to Sen. Brown's office. Samantha was fantastic. She was informative, helpful, did NOT overwhelm us with information, and gave us a step by step course of action. After we filled out some very simple forms, she said she'd start working on our behalf as soon as we left, and off we went to the place many of you suggested (and which Samantha literally drew us a map to get to), the Franklin County Veterans Service Commission, https://vets.franklincountyohio.gov/
As with the senator's office, the staff at the Vet Commission treated us kindly and respectfully, and it wasn't because the office was aware of this page or that Jim has so many people behind him (they had no idea when we first got there). They were genuinely caring, helpful people, even late on a Friday afternoon, when I'm sure they were hoping to go home. Megan met with us about emergency options they offer in terms of getting housing support and food assistance, but the big thing they can help us with is to get Jim's VA rating adjusted. We're going back there next week to meet with a counselor. Since we arrived so late in the day we couldn't meet with both Megan and the claims counselor, but we'll go back on Tuesday (Jim is going to the VA on Monday). Samantha is going to work with the Commission to get them the documentation they need in order to move forward with his claim (including expediting the medical records from his military career).
After meeting with Megan, we headed off to give my very patient 11-year-old the Chipotle luncheon he'd been promised hours earlier. Thus fortified, we made our final stop of the day at T-Mobile, where Crystal Wiseman and store manager Rob Brown hooked him up with a $50 plan that is LESS THAN HALF what he was paying with his former cell phone plan. Holy cow, right?!! As you can imagine, Jim's phone is his lifeline and his entertainment, so it's incredibly important that he have affordable cell phone service.
What a day, huh? I know that many of you are understandably anxious for Jim to get housing. That's definitely something we're working towards--it absolutely WILL happen--but please know that he says he's fine right now. It was really bad for him when it was so hot and he didn't have air conditioning, but right now, tonight, he's OK.
And we'll see what new blessings await us tomorrow!