The liberty program

Giving back to those who have served our country.

by Robert Brennan –

Wendy Triana

When Wendy Triana joined the U.S. Navy in January 2001, she intended to see the world, earn money for a college education, and broaden her scope of life as a graduate of Roosevelt High School in Southern California.

On September 11, 2001, sailor Wendy Triana found herself in a military at war. She was attached to an air wing of the Navy and served aboard a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, which was one of the first ships deployed to the Persian Gulf. There, she became a “plane captain,” responsible for 25 other sailors and the care and maintenance of an F-18 Hornet Fighter/Attack aircraft.

Spending 16-hour days on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and serving two deployments in a war zone took their toll on Wendy. By the time she was discharged from the Navy in 2005, she found it very difficult to re-adjust to civilian life. It is imperative on a flight deck to be hyper-vigilant as the exhaust of powerful jet engines can blow a sailor off the ship and there is the constant threat of attack. Returning to life in the States with a constant sense of living on the edge can lead, as in Wendy’s case, to depression caused by post traumatic stress.

In October 2007, after several failed attempts to receive help, Wendy found The Salvation Army’s Liberty Programa program funded and designed explicitly for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans like Wendy.

In the Liberty Program, Wendy found new avenues of help as well as the compassionate ear of Director David Leonard. A month later, Wendy was offered a position at The Salvation Army Bell Shelter for homeless men and women. She is now a case manager at the center helping 30 clients a week, many of whom are veterans like her, to navigate the various programs and services available.

As a single mom with a little girl to support, Wendy is slowly and surely getting her life back together. She is taking college courses working towards a degree and soon hopes to access the professional, one-on-one counseling available within the Liberty Program.

Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict, now living in Southern California, can find help at the Liberty Program. Contact 310-920-0067 or email for more information.

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