Mon May 27, 2013
Memorial Day Focus, Former US Army Soldier helping colleagues to a better life here in Syracuse
One veteran this Memorial Day is sharing his experiences trying to help other Vets get stable housing, medical care or other help.
Brad Potrikus is a case worker with Catholic Charities of Onondaga County working on supportive services for veterans and their families.
"If they're in a shelter I'd go pick them up and take them somewhere meet with them, or if they already had apt I'd go there and meet with them. I'd figure out what needs they were missing, whether it's help them find income, help them find some type of stability, help them find an apartment within their budget."
The program can help with security deposit and moving costs. Potrikus spent eight years in the U-S Army, much of it with the 10th mountain Division, 3-6 field artillery, including two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. But he’s helping more than his peers.
"We deal with veterans from any generation, whether it's the Korean War, Vietnam or the first Gulf War, or even modern day veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan."
Brad is able to get them registered with the V-A, or see if they’re missing benefits they’re owed...it could be mental health or job training.
"The military is really starting to focus on helping veterans when they get out. So I just got out myself last year, so I just learned a lot of the services when I was coming through myself. It's stuff that three or four years ago either didn't exist, or wasn't being pushed or advertised. Good for me to share my knowledge and help people get some of the services they were missing."
And it all might work a little better because he also wore the uniform.
"I've heard numerous times that it was nice having another veteran to talk to. It was easier for me to understand some of the stuff that they've experienced and go through. I'm more apt to share my experiences with somebody that's been through the same stuff so it's probably great for them too."
For Memorial Day, Brad just thanks everyone who’s served...and wishes luck to his buddies over there now. The Supportive Services for Veterans Program, again is with Catholic Charities.