Local veteran overcomes homelessness and works toward associate degree

Joseph, a local boy from Waianae, attended Leeward Community College for a year and decided that joining the Marines at 18 years of age was a better life path for himself than was attending school. He spent six years serving his country and was honorably discharged in 1994. Four years later, he met the love of his life, Leilani, and together they raised two teenagers, Lily and Christian.

Joseph and Leilani spent the early years of their marriage in New Zealand, Leilani’s home country. After eight years, they returned to Hawai‘i where he held several jobs. They were settled here: the children were in school, Joseph had a job and the family had a place to call home.

Then Joseph was released from his position at work, and with the loss of income he started to get behind on the rent. Fortunately, his landlord was aware of Catholic Charities Hawaii‘i and referred him to the agency. Joseph was interviewed and qualified for Supportive Services for Veteran Families. The program provided resources so he could be current on his rent. They also referred him to other services, especially those designed for veterans. He currently receives case management and attends classes that teach him how to be more self-sustaining.

Joseph is nine credits away from earning an associate degree and is considering a return to school with the G. I. bill. With only one semester to complete, he realizes that his journey is coming full circle. He left school to join the Marines; now he is ready to go back to school again.