Medford, Ore. — In honor of Veteran’s Day Saturday, and all of our local service members, NBC5 News is bringing you a local vet’s story each day on NBC5 News at 6. Their journeys are all different, but their time in the military brought on similar challenges. Through hard work, and helping hands, each have received help and are now thriving.
In day three, we’re meeting Anna Belski and her eight year old daughter Elizabeth.
Elizabeth enjoys school, but she’s always eager to get home, go outside, and play.
“Sometimes I ask my mom if I can go over and play with my friend next door,” Elizabeth said.
“You’ve got good friends,” Anna added.
“Yeah, really good friends,” Elizabeth agreed.
Some days, Anna even gets in on the fun. But their journey together hasn’t always been fun, or easy.
“It was a lot of hard work to be able to get to where the two of us are at today,” Anna said.
Their struggle started just after Elizabeth was born, but for Anna, it was a battle she had been fighting for years.
“The day after she was born, they had placed her in foster care,” Anna recalled. “I had lost custody of two older children due to my alcoholism and drug addiction.”
Anna says those issues, along with PTSD, were a product of her time in the Army. After she was honorably discharged, Anna struggled more and more, ultimately becoming homeless.
“I was just here, there, and everywhere,” Anna said. “Anywhere I could lay my head, basically.”
She says it was Elizabeth who helped her get back on track, and working toward recovery.
“When I found out I was pregnant with her, the day I found out, I quit drinking,” Anna said.”That was nine years ago.”
While Elizabeth spent the first 11 months of her life in foster care, Anna was slowly getting back on her feet, working through programs in the Women’s Gospel Mission. But even after completing them, and winning custody of her daughter, Anna tells me her self esteem had taken a hit.
“I didn’t feel I was quite ready to be back on my own yet, with getting her back from foster care, so the director had called the Hope House for me, and they had actually had an opening,” Anna said.
Anna credits their stay at the Salvation Army Hope House, for getting them back on stable ground, and into an apartment, where they’ve now lived for more than five years. Now that they don’t need the help, Anna says they give it instead.
“I try to be so proactive, you know, with giving back, and being a part of it,” Anna said. “If they ask me, ‘hey Anna, can you do this?’ it’s like, ‘I’m right on it, I would love to.’ And it’s not, I know I don’t have to, but it’s my heart that’s telling me I need to, for me, to give back.”
Anna says she’s learned a lot throughout the years, and in each program she’s been through. But she only has one message for anyone still struggling.
“There are a lot of resources out there to help, as long as you’re wanting the help, but you have to have the willingness to accept that help, or you won’t get anywhere,” Anna said.
If you or a veteran you know is struggling, there are local resources available to provide help and support. The White City VA SORCC offers everything from treatment programs to mental and recreational therapy. Rogue Valley Veterans & Community Outreach offers similar help.