Long Beach Citadel says ‘welcome home’ to vets


The corps presents home starter kits to women veterans who have received housing

By Buffy Lincoln

“Welcome home” gift packs for women veterans were the brainchild of Long Beach (Calif.) Citadel Corp’s Social Services Director Gail Crandall. As director, Crandall visits the U.S. Vets-Long Beach campus in Cabrillo, Calif., meeting with women who have received housing benefits. She gives them a $300 voucher to the Long Beach Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) Thrift Store to purchase large appliances.

“We thank the Long Beach ARC for stretching the value of the vouchers given to our veterans to help get refrigerators, stoves, beds or other furnishings needed for their new homes,” Crandall said.

After a visit about three weeks ago, she realized that although large appliances were needed, so were general necessities. So she contacted other local service agencies, asking  them to network with The Salvation Army with a donation of $7,500 to create “Welcome home” packages. The Long Beach Lions Club responded immediately.

On Crandall’s next visit to U.S. Vets-Long Beach, she met with Kamil Taylor-Diggs, who had just received her housing approval. Taylor-Diggs is an Army veteran who received an early honorable discharge due to a debilitating knee injury, serving in the Military Police canine unit until 1999 when she was injured. She has two children: daughter Kamia, 8, and son Kaleb, 6, who has special needs.

After her early out, Taylor-Diggs began postgraduate studies in psychology/criminal justice at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but had to drop out to care for her son. Originally from Compton, Calif., she returned to be close to family. Now with a new home, appliances, furniture  and her VA school grant, she plans to resume her master’s program online.

“I appreciate the services The Salvation Army has available. Gail has been such a help in getting us the things we need, even toys for the kids,” Taylor-Diggs said.

Each kit contains dishes, glassware, flatware, pots and pans, cooking utensils, bath towels, pillows, pillow cases, blankets and a $25 Walmart gift card.

Captains Moy and Erika Hernandez are the Long Beach Citadel corps officers. Majors Rudy and Judy Hedgren are director of operations and outreach and community service coordinator, respectively.

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