Imagine waking up tired, depressed, in pain and wondering how to pay for that bill due in a few days. Many of the 1.5 million veterans here in the state of Florida face that nightmare daily. Veterans Day only exposes the reality of it.
“The camaraderie that comes with it, you can't experience it anywhere else,” says Chang Echevarria.
The 33-year-old lived life in the military to the fullest and now he's paying the price for it.
“It was just complete shock, just a loud tone, a ringing sound.”
The Army mechanic with one tour of duty in Iraq almost lost his life when IED’s (improvised explosive devices) rocked his unit. Now he carries the horror of that moment every day. He's been out of military for months but remains jobless, sleepless and on heavy medication for post traumatic stress disorder.
“Despite everything he wants to do, he doesn't necessarily have the ability to do it which is hard especially when he sacrificed so much,” says Chang’s wife Kristen.
Chang is part of a trend showing up across the country: Veterans caught up on wait lists looking for jobs, benefits, medical needs and a fresh start.
“The research is there but I believe it still takes a lot of work for vets to sit down in front of his computer and find the answers that he needs so that's kind of where we come in,” says Jason Droddy.
The Droddy Group just got off the ground months ago. It's the beginning of what could become the answer that vets need to stand in the face of adversity and reintegrate into society.
“Where do I need to go to find a job, where do I need to go to get medical attention? Or if they're missing paperwork to get into the VA,” says Kevin Droddy.
Jason and Kevin Droddy are retired Army Rangers with 6 tours of duty and nearly 200 missions. They broke into real estate and found a niche. How can they help veterans find housing?
“We do better together,” says Kevin.
The idea blossomed into something. What if we can help them pay for grocery bills, gas bills or more. While they're just getting off the ground at www.droddygroup.com, it’s a step in the right direction.
And for vets like Chang and his wife Kristen, help for veterans can't come soon enough.
“We know a lot of families who didn't make it, a lot of soldiers who six weeks was to long, they never made it to the other side, so we're just grateful, lucky and blessed.”
For more information on the Droddy Group visit them at www.droddygroup.com or call 561-247-4413. Chang and three other veterans and their families along with the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund will benefit from an event being held for them. Details can be found at www.obeosociety.com/bbb in honor of Veterans Day weekend.