Meet Your Military: Guard Soldier Aids Comrades Beyond Battlefield
LOBELVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 16, 2014 – Army Staff Sgt. Pamela Pugh, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and 14-year member of the Tennessee National Guard, was contacted during the late summer by two of her fellow soldiers who found themselves homeless and in dire need of aid. Pugh guided them to resources and various support programs that aid current military personnel, veterans and their families. Courtesy photo A platoon sergeant for her unit here, Pugh immediately took the initiative to help her comrades in arms, not only by her own actions, but also with help of numerous resources now available to military personnel, veterans and their families.
“These are my soldiers. I take care of them every month, and they know I care about them whether on or off duty,” Pugh said. “They know they can call me any time, especially when they are having difficult moments in their life. I take extreme pride in helping these soldiers. They are like my family, like my kids, and I feel an obligation to assist them as best I can.” Study shows extent of veteran homelessness Battling homelessness among service members and veterans has become a priority in the United States.
The Department of Veterans Affairs published a study identifying nearly 58,000 homeless veterans nationally on one single night in January 2013. Lori Ogden, director of development for Operation Stand Down Tennessee -- a nonprofit organization that provides free help to Tennessee veterans – said the unemployment rate among veterans in the state is 6.9 percent, and one in five homeless persons are veterans. VA and other agencies continue to develop programs to reduce the number of homeless who have a military background, she added, yet they emphasize the need for further support within Tennessee and across the country.
Pugh’s story began when she was contacted by a young soldier in her platoon who was living in a rescue shelter in Nashville, Tennessee. Using her knowledge of resources available through the Tennessee National Guard Family Programs section, the Enlisted Association of Tennessee, a local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other agencies, she was able to find financial assistance, temporary lodging and full-time employment for the Guard member. Helping a second soldier Pugh’s aid did not end with the one homeless soldier. Shortly afterward, she helped another member of her unit in a similar situation. The second soldier had sought refuge in a rescue shelter during an interim period prior to attending a state educational program. Pugh helped the soldier obtain lodging and financial aid. Beyond the resources she accessed during the first soldier’s issues, Pugh was able to get other members of her unit to assist in moving the second soldier’s personal belongings during the transition to her school.
“The actions of Staff Sergeant Pugh are keeping with Army values, the Noncommissioned Officer’s Creed and are a true reflection of the nature of the Tennessee National Guard,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Scott, the senior enlisted leader for Tennessee. “Not only are our soldiers and airmen assisting their nation, state and communities, but they are dedicated to their fellow team members as well.” Support mechanisms worked seamlessly Pugh, members of her unit and the Tennessee National Guard’s soldier and airman support mechanisms worked seamlessly to help those encountering difficult times in their lives, Scott noted. “Our National Guard is a family, and when any of our own are in need of assistance, we come together to support each other,” he said. “It is with great pride that I was allowed to witness the functioning of our internal support network to assist one of our own. Staff Sergeant Pugh is a credit to her unit, as well as her fellow service members. She recognized a need and proactively sought out the necessary resources to take care of our Guard personnel.”
Written Oct. 16, 2014 By: Niki Gentry Tennessee National Guard
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