I am a disabled veteran who has experienced a long declining state of health and career for ten years. After a severe storm flooded and destroyed my home, I was left living there, still with my four old border collies. We lost everything. However, in a box, I found a 12-year-old camera I had forgotten I’d bought (more on that later). Eventually, the city condemned the property, and I moved myself and the pups to a very small slum rental in South Tampa.
While I was there, the owners changed several times, and while HUD-VASH was working to help relocate us, a new owner emerged and tried to evict us. Bay Area Legal Services stepped in and intervened on my behalf, which gave time for our relocation to be completed.
Initially, using my own photos from that camera, I started writing stories. One page evolved into a fully-accredited photo-journal that supports shelters and Florida dog activities while advocating for full active lives for veterans and their dogs.
The timely assistance was critical, but the compassion, care, and willingness to listen I received were just as important to me personally. I was a very isolated disabled veteran at high risk, in and out of suicide watch. The importance [of attorney] Alex Srsic’s sincere and honest commitment cannot be overstated. Ms. Srsic guided me through this stressful period, and it is fair to say that her work and Bay Area Legal saves lives. My life is far from a "bed of roses," and I still face many challenges, but I am here today and continuing on in part because of that help.