Marissa joined the United States Army in 2004, where she trained to become a military police officer and was then sent to her first duty station at Ft. Lewis, Washington. Her unit had already deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, and Marissa quickly joined them – they were tasked with the training and security of multiple Iraqi police stations.
On Thanksgiving Day 2005, the vehicle Marissa was in was struck by four artillery rounds buried in the road. The blast killed two Americans and an Iraqi police colonel. Marissa survived, but lost both legs and suffered multiple broken bones and a traumatic brain injury which left her in a coma for four weeks.
Marissa left the Army because of her injuries. Once recovered, Marissa found herself and her fiancé in need of help finding a place to live. She reached out to a CFC-funded organization and explained her situation. They were able to send her enough funds for both her first and last month’s rent, as well as her security deposit.
“Thank you for making it possible to have a place to live while I work towards accomplishing my goal.” Marissa said after her first experience with the organization. “My goal is to graduate from U of M with a Bachelor’s Degree in sports medicine to be able to help other people with similar injuries train and stay active.”
However, years later, Marissa found herself deeply in debt with her house payments and at serious risk of homelessness. The organization again stepped in to provide a $12,000 check from their emergency aid program, helping Marissa find stability.
Marissa's plight underscores the serious nature of female veteran homelessness in the U.S. In fact, the homelessness rate is four times higher for women veterans than for their male counterparts. The CFC-funded organization that came to Marissa’s aid believes strongly that no man or woman who has served and sacrificed to defend our freedoms should ever be homeless, and work hard to that purpose.