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Norma Pearson - Signed Articles of Agreement May 21, 2009, 29th Learner

United States Army

This is my beginning to My Life, My Lineage, My First Paperback Book. I invite you to read my journey as I compose each chapter of the 14 Level Reintegration Program. My success is your success and our community's success. Thank you for your courage and support. To post comments you must register with our community. You can view this outline  I am using to map out my progess. Thank you for your comments, I value them.

  • Friday, June 12, 2009 21:48 | Norma Pearson
    I'm like many others here, who are members of the SVBRC. I'm also 30% disabled, & am doing my best to work around my disabilities. I'm a single parent of an 18 yr old daughter, struggling to make ends meet in a failing economy.

    I feel a little relieved now since all of the struggles I had to endure for 3 months before finally getting things in motion. It was extremely stressful & I was beginning to think that all of my efforts were in vain. I thought all the times I prayed for a miracle was falling on deaf ears. I spent so many days & nights, stressing out & crying myself to sleep. I knew that the next day was a new day & that maybe there was still a chance God would answer my prayers, or that something might happen to change my circumstances.

    My biggest fear was having my daughter think I was a failure as a parent, that I failed her too & I didn't want her to think that. Now, I'm so relieved that things fell into place. It felt like it took forever & I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's still not in reach yet, but, I can see it now. I finally got my first EDD benefit check & the whole overpayment mess is finally behind me.

    I'm still pinching my pennies & trying to save money by not going anywhere if I don't have to in order to save the money I would've spent on gas & save my time as well. I'm now working on going back to school under the Vocational Rehab program through the VA & that's taken up most of my time. I'm trying to get into the Summer Session so I can get started on getting my BA. I still have some stress, but, most of that is due to some health problems, but, they are being checked out. I was also able to get the appointment I needed for a 2nd opinion on my wrist at the West LA location at the VA. The VA Medical Center I'm assigned to, the Ortho Dr there only wants to fuse my bones & not address the cause of my disability. That's not an option for me & I fought to get the appointment for a 2nd opinion & I finally got it!

    I'm a fighter, I question authority & I stand up for what I believe in. I guess that being in the Military & now a Veteran helped mold me into the person I am today. I try my best to not let anything slow me down, even with my disabilities. I know what my limitations are, but, I never give up & I refuse to give in.

    I'm proud of my daughter because she finished her first year of college & in the Fall is going to be a Sophomore. It's funny because I was telling her that she & I are both going to be in college now! I've been passed over so many times for great jobs, even though I've got 8 years of experience, & the person that was selected was someone with a degree that's right out of college with no experience. So, when I found out that I was able to go to college under the Vocational Rehab program through the VA, I jumped at the chance & am getting the ball rolling now. Once I get my degree, I'll have everything I need in order to get a good job with the experience I already have, or will be able to start my own business with the help of the VA.

    It's been a long, rocky struggle getting to where I am right now, but, things are finally starting to fall into place! :-)
  • Sunday, May 24, 2009 20:22 | Norma Pearson
    Orientation was familiarizing me to the 14 Level Reintegration Program. It also helped me face the trials & extreme stresses I endured that initailly brought me to the SWVBRC.

    I became a victim of the economy like so many before me & had lost my job at the end of February & at the time, had immediately filed for unemployment the same day I lost my job. I waited the 10 days that it would take to process my claim & then received a letter from EDD that I was entitled to receive unemployment benefits.

    They sent me my cards & I filled them out & mailed them, all the while, spending hours daily at my computer earching for a job. When I was supposed to receive my first check, it never came. I tried countless numbers of times to contact EDD by phone & was unable to reach them. All I got was a recording saying "We're currently receiving more calls than we can take, please try again later." This became extremely frustrating as I attempted to contact them daily, only to get the same thing, over & over again. In the meantime, I had enough savings to get my daugter & I through the next 2 months before it was all gone.

    I resorted to going to food banks for food, applying for General Assistance & got denied, I was sending e-mails to the President's office & the Governor's office too. I explained my plight & never recieved any response from the President's office, & only  got a generic e-mail back from the Governor's office telling me to keep calling EDD & that they know they're understaffed & had hired new people to answer phones, even though I NEVER got through.

    I was frustrated & scared (even though it was early April), because I've never been homeless before & thought I might be facing that if I couldn't make rent for May. I learned of a website on the local news that was featured, which was called "Wish Upon A Hero" & thought I'd give it a try. I posted my wish & hoped that someone out there would be "a Hero" for us. I was willing to do anything & everything I could in order to keep a roof over my daughter's head. That prompted someone who replied to my plea on "Wish Upon A Hero" to send out my e-mail to 70+ contacts  he knew. One of those contacts & e-mails went to Albert Renteria at the SWVBRC.

    At the end of April I learned that I had been disqualified for 8 weeks & that was the reason I hadn't received my unemployment benefit payments. I had never recieved any notification & never knew until I called a lady at the State Employment office. By the end of April, I had completed the 8 week disqualification period & then I had to wait the 10 days, before finally receiving a $25 check that was only the stimulus payment. (My first unemployment benefits payment is finally going to be mailed before the end of May.) At this point, I had received a 3-day letter (since I was going to be late with rent) from the property management office at my apt. complex & I was scared to death that we were going to be evicted. The property management office did give us an extension which helped buy us time in order to get rent together.

    Within that time, Albert Renteria had contacted me & I had been corresponding with him via e-mail & finally went to Orientation & was hoping he'd be able to help me. Also within that time, I went to the VA at the Federal Building & got some help there too. I hadn't previously known that my daughter had been taken off as my dependent when she turned 18, even though she started college 3 days later. I was able to get someone at the Veterans Svcs. Division to help me & fight for me, by getting her back on as my dependent, getting me back my disability benefits that I had lost out on retroactively, re-open the increase for my disabilities (which had previously been denied), & get me signed up for Vocational Rehab as well. It seemed like things were finally starting to change, even though it felt like it took forever.

    Also within that time, my daughter, Karyn, applied for a student loan at school & was able to get it, so we not only made rent, we were able to pay some bills that I had to make wait so we could keep a roof over our heads. At the beginning of May, I received my back pay on my disability benefits, & that too, went to paying bills. Going to Orientation helped pick me up off the ground when it felt like everything was crashing down around me. I thought that all hope was lost & that God hated me & was making us suffer like this. It was only after I signed the Articles of Agreement that I felt things were going to be ok & that I could finally sleep at night & not have to worry about whether I'll be able to keep us afloat.

    I hope anyone reading this is inspired by what we went through & will help others who have been or have found themselves in the same situation that we were in, & find a glimmer of hope that all is not lost, & where there's a will, there's always a way.

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