Testimonials from Stars & Stripes Gala 2018


Testimonials from Stars & Stripes Gala 2017


Art Therapy Testimonial

“If I couldn’t come here I don’t know what I’d do. The Crisis Line tells me not to call them because I’m not suicidal but I need to talk to someone. That PhD at the VA tells me I’m too high functioning. What does that mean? I need help.” 

This veteran regularly called the VA Crisis Line and over a number of years failed to connect with numerous VA service providers. Cost to the veteran who was on a fixed income was $55 for each visit. The veteran was feeling desperate and vulnerable when first beginning individual art therapy at the VOC. The veteran was able to develop a workable therapeutic relationship and more able to manage traumatic memories as insight improved during weekly art therapy sessions. Calls to the VA Crisis Line ceased as the veteran’s sense of safety and ability to function in the community grew. This veteran often reported “I wish I didn’t have to take all these medications. My psychiatrist says I should just do art therapy.”     


Homeless Veteran Experience

January 16, 2018 

(Name redacted)
Homeless Veteran
Rochester, NY 14620

Veterans Outreach Center
459 South Avenue
Rochester, NY 14620

To Whom it May Concern,

As a female veteran that is homeless, especially with children, I know how devastating the experience is. I was staying with family due to a sanction (180 days mind you) placed by DHS.

Since the incident I have utilized every resource I could find. When I walked in the Veterans office on South Ave I was simply looking for a warm place to sit out of the cold. Due to me receiving a chapter 11 discharge I knew there was very little the Veterans office could assist me with—fortunately I was so wrong.

I was greeted by Karen. She gently and carefully questioned me and asked if there was anything I needed help for. Slowly I opened up and 15 minutes later I was upstairs being introduced to Marianne and Rodney. Before I knew it, I had an entire staff assisting me. I was able to provide my children with gifts. An extended thanks to Marianne for coming out of her way to Gates, NY just to make sure those gifts would be available to them on Christmas morning. 

As a sufferer of PTSD among other issues I face, my son has ADHD. This office is very understanding of how valuable my time is. As I have managed to find employment and schooling through their direct care and guidance. With an education and new employment, I will soon be able to pick up the pieces of my life and maintain stable, affordable and suitable housing working with the staff here. They have given me hope for a brighter future when I saw a mountain, they provided boots and encouraged me to climb. The assistance, care and comfort of the entire staff in such a nurturing environment has inspired me. I would love to acknowledge Marianne Sernoffsky as well. No problem too big or too small for her on my team. I have been encouraged where I was down before, I have support when I have nothing to offer by a new challenge. 

The staff at this office truly define what all veterans require. No task is too big or too small. Everyone is treated with the highest level of respect. For someone who is homeless and unable to rely on welfare I thought my case was strenuous and I had nowhere to go with my child. I appreciate every piece of help from the staff and thought someone should know. 

With the highest regard,

(Name redacted)


“From the Bottom to the Top”

This is a brief story of where (name redacted) came from, what he became, and who he is today. 

When I was growing up most everyday was violent. Children were meant to be seen not heard. I was raised with good morals and respect for others. Certainly did what I was told without any resistance. I always had a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my belly and a bed to sleep in. My father’s parents lived on a farm where I learned how to have work ethics. My grandfather served in WWII and my father was a Vietnam Veteran. My mom’s parents died when I was young. I had learned good habits and bad along the way. Take a guess! “You got it” I stuck with the bad ones. I did everything imaginable. My last DWI happened 4 years after my father passed and my world stopped. I stopped caring about everything and everyone. Needless to say lost the relationship with my family. 

 Being a Veteran myself I ended up in Veterans Court. 

 Veterans Court introduced me to the VOC. I lived in Richards House where I didn’t want to be at all. Making that choice was the right one. It made me take inventory of myself and gave me a chance to be associated with some really good councilors that seem to really care. I trusted one at a time not all at once. I listened to what they had to say and actually followed instruction out of desperation to change my life around. I went through an Out Patient program and continued to work with council at the house. There are several things available through the VOC. I had to believe I could do it and take every healing opportunity I possibly could with confidence. They allowed me space to grow in sobriety and guided me with every question I had. Almost everyone in the VOC has had involvement in my sobriety because that’s how I wanted it. I’m forever blessed and grateful for all they have done for me. I had my own assigned Case Manager at the house. Anything I could possibly ask he helped. To all the Veterans that are out there still suffering and want your world to end give the VOC a chance to do what they love.

Now to tell you where I’m at today. I have over a year plus in the Sober world. I have learned to trust and communicate. I have learned to feel and care for other people with empathy and compassion. I have much success in the confidence I have back. I finish tasks to a tea. I finished Veterans Court in a timely fashion. Last but not least I have been able to successfully pursue going back to school so that I can follow my dreams!