Friday, December 16, 2011

Officers honored for helping homeless woman get home, income

Today I presented a Certificate of Commendation to two officers who really went above and beyond. They helped a homeless woman get a home and income. Here's their story:

In April of this year, Officers Kenny Miller and Doug Harr came in contact with Teresa, a homeless woman begging for money and living under a bridge. Officers Miller and Harr asked Teresa how she had gotten to this point in her life. She said that her husband, who spent eight years in the military, had died two years ago. That left her with no income, and she lost her house. She had applied for his death benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2009 but never heard back from them.

Officers Miller and Harr followed up, contacting the appropriate people at Veterans Affairs. They found that Teresa had applied for the benefits but her case was closed because the VA could not find her. They then were told that if they could provide the VA with Teresa’s marriage certificate, the case could be re-opened and processed. Realizing she had some cognitive disabilities, the officers went to work helping Teresa with the necessary paperwork.

They contacted the Platte County records clerk, got Teresa’s marriage license mailed to Central Patrol Division, and gave her a ride to the VA to work with a benefits specialist who re-opened her case. The dedication and persistence of these two officers allowed Teresa to get what she was entitled to: more than $650 a month in benefits with several months of back pay.

Officers Miller and Harr did not stop there. They continued to assist Teresa with every phone call, coordinating all necessary paperwork and getting her in touch with Assertive Community Outreach for case management and supportive housing services. Teresa now has her own apartment and sent Officers Harr and Miller Christmas cards.

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