Arizona State Parks Employ Homeless Veterans as Rangers

A program that has been launched in Arizona, working in partnership with a host of public and private agencies, is putting homeless veterans to work.

Army veteran Carlos Garcia now working as a park ranger for Arizona State Parks.

Army veteran Carlos Garcia now working as a park ranger for Arizona State Parks.

The program is called the Arizona Action Plan to End Homelessness Among Veterans.

Employing the veterans is a great thing as to them, it is more than just a job; it’s a second chance in life. So many veterans, after giving their service and risking their lives for their country, are left unemployed and sometimes homeless, living on the streets, on their return home.

Under the program Army veteran Carlos Garcia is working as an Arizona State Park Ranger. He is now earning $12 an hour and has a home in a FEMA trailer.

According to Garcia, this has really changed his life and boosted his morale. He says he was out of work for two years and got into some trouble, but now he is so glad to be working again.

The pilot program has placed four veterans, including Garcia, as park rangers, working and living in Dead Horse Ranch State Park, in Cottonwood.

So far, Garcia has saved money, lost twenty-five pounds, and has even reconnected with his family.

Army veteran Carlos Garcia now working as a park ranger for Arizona State Parks.

Army veteran Carlos Garcia now working as a park ranger for Arizona State Parks.

He says it has helped him out a lot emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically and is grateful for the “awesome opportunity and a great experience” of being in the employ of the Arizona State Parks.

The executive director of Arizona’s State Parks Bryan Martyn, himself an Air Force veteran who flew special ops, said taxpayers get a good deal when the state hires veterans.

“I know the skill sets the veterans have,” Martyn told the media.

“I know they can do this job.”

Martyn added that he wanted to help the homeless veterans after hearing a staggering statistic one morning on the radio going to work. He heard that the suicide rate for veterans was up to around 22 a day, a shocking figure. On hearing that he brought it up at an executive staff meeting that morning and said that they have to do something about it.

According to Martyn, he is trying to give the veterans a skill and allow them to get their lives back together. It would also allow the vets to have something to put on their resume “other than kicking in doors or driving tanks,” he said.

He added that they work with the Veterans Affairs to ensure that counseling services are available and apparently the VA has been providing a follow-up service and is checking on the guys.

Martyn’s boss, Gov. Jan Brewer, says helping veterans provide for themselves is the least taxpayers can do.

Brewer started the wider program, and encouraged agencies like Martyn’s to get involved.

“Few things are more important than properly caring for those Americans who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect our way of life and defend our nation from enemies. Through their selfless actions, our veterans have earned the respect and gratitude of all who have benefited from their honorable service,” Brewer wrote in a recent Op-Ed.

arizona state parks logo“Unfortunately, some in our veteran community seem to have fallen through the cracks.

For far too long, homeless veterans have been deprived of the comforts and security that most of us take for granted — blessings, ironically, that they themselves faced injury and death to secure for their fellow citizens.

“That there are veterans living in misery on the streets of America has long been a source of shame. It is a grave disservice to the men and women who have bravely served us.

“That ends now.

“In Arizona, we are working together to erase the scourge of homelessness among our state’s veterans.”

Worth Pondering…

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

—Michael Jordan

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