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First Phase

Friday, January 09, 2009 19:54 | Christopher Bush
Falling on hard times is no reason to give up and quit, it‘s actually the driving force of my life. Despite the many times I have fallen down, I always pick myself up to find that I'm stronger and better equipped to handle life. Recently I have been caught in a whirlwind of unpleasant situations as well as been given an opportunity that comes once in a life time.

I am a man that has problems in my life, and I’ve never met a person that didn’t have problems. Now that being said, we all have something in common. The trick is not to deny but to acknowledge them to further understand myself and the situations around me. Everyday I wake up as a man that has much to accomplish and with so little time to do it. It’s easier to make excuses on how bad life is and how unfair the world treats me but no amount of sympathy will get me to where I‘m going. It’s not so easy sometimes in life to take responsibility and accept that sometimes I am wrong. I don’t know everything and it’s ok to ask for help.

It’s unnerving how life takes a turn when I least expect it to, and usually good feelings aren‘t associated with stressful situations. I have found that even when times are the toughest, there’s always good things that present themselves as well. It may seem that when troubles happen it’s a very inconvenient time but I believe all things happen in life to strengthen my spirit and shape the man I am becoming.

At the time of writing this it wasn’t that long ago that I had returned back from a combat zone. Life had taken many fortunate turns and it seemed like nothing could hinder my plans for life. I thought that but soon found out life had plans of its own for me and suddenly my world was turned upside down. I lost my little family that I loved and our home I was living at, all in the same night. For a couple weeks I lost the sense of who I was and where I was heading. I was now sleeping on friends and family’s couches hundreds of miles away from my son. I was not only heart broken from separating from his mother but I desperately needed to be a father for my son. I felt like I was at rock bottom but this wasn’t the first time in life I had felt this way. Luckily all the not so good things that had happened before these events prepared me to not make matters worse by panicking. My life experience prepared me to stay focused on what I needed to do, get back on my feet, get back to my son and get on a path to a career.

After finding an organization that helped me out by providing me with housing, I found another that was now helping me on my way to become a business man. Less than 24 hours after learning of the SWVBRC, I registered then later signed on as a Learner. I wrote a few sentences the night I registered not expecting to hear back for a while but was surprised to hear back that night. Albert Renteria had impressed me from the first encounter and only continued once we met in person.

I knew I was in the right place but probably a little late seeing as I was now homeless....well living in transitional housing for homeless veterans. Better late than never, right? But I couldn’t help to imagine if I had found this resource during better times in my life. It's easy to lose sight of what's important but never too late to get back on the right track. I sat there in down town Fallbrook listening to a man speak about business, hardships in personal life and a sincere concern for his brothers in arms who had honorably served or are still serving their country.

Despite all that is known or assumed of military personnel in a positive light, I found it heartbreaking to learn from Albert that the homeless population consisted of such high percentages of veterans. My world stopped for a minute as I realized what that was saying about the support veterans are supposedly getting. The support supposedly receiving from institutions funded exclusively to provide support for veterans. The truth is, we are not getting it. It is being used to pay high wages to some institutions acting like they are helping veterans but are just collecting a pay check while the veteran begs for change on freeway off ramps.

I listened as Albert continued speaking to me about some of his background and we had more in common than I could have ever imagined. It's extremely hard to capture and express feelings and emotions of being in a brotherhood known as the Marines unless you were in. His adherence to core values only solidified my connection and enhanced our exchange of thoughts, ideas and problems to be worked out. Albert and I talked for what seemed like minutes but in actuality the information he was presenting had me captivated for hours. He asked me questions about my life and about my struggles mixing in business techniques and his idea of leaving behind a better world for vets. He explained, "we must let the community know what we are struggling with, in our own written words, in order to bring about an awareness to aid the homeless veteran".

The people do not know our struggles because our stories have not been told, have not been heard and until that happens, we cannot be helped. The majority of people sees a homeless veteran laying on the sidewalk and looks at him in disgust but at the same time most "wish" there were something they could do to help him. "That is the veteran we are trying to reach out to and bring back into the community", Albert expressed to me.

Talking to down and out veterans was something both Albert and I had been doing in our own ways for years. It wasn't until then that I realized, everyone is doing just that. The general population of citizens are en masse, willing with heart felt desires, to help veterans but don't have a centralized hub in order to accomplish this. This is where SWVBRC has the opportunity to better equip veterans with life skills and the tools necessary to enable vets to become once again, contributing members of society. Albert has a idea and a plan, now all it’s going to take is the will of the veteran and citizens to get the idea and plan from paper to reality. It’s exciting because it’s been happening before I was part of this and in my short time here, it’s already grown.

For the first time in my life I feel like I can breath easier only because I am now part of something bigger and better than me, just as good if not better than the feeling I had as an active duty Marine. That bigger and better something is our community.


  • Saturday, January 10, 2009 12:25 | Eleanor Tobias
    Chris, it appears to me, from your writing, that you have the dedication and fortitude from your life experience to make the most of this wonderful opportunity with SWVBRC. How wonderful that you found it, and Al, at the very time you were the most receptive for some community help. I think you will be a terrific asset to the program as well because you uderstand what your fellow veterans are going through.

    I want to thank you so very much for your service to your country, and pray for the return of your happy family life. Your son is absolutely adorable and I know is the light of your life!

    Best wishes, always.
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 04:41 | Christopher Bush
      Thank you for your kind words Eleanor. I feel so alone sometimes and life seems unbearable at certain times. I know my situation is much better than some but no honorable veteran should have the empty feeling inside about not being involved in his or her community. Some days I have to force myself to stay upbeat but good people and especially my son make it much easier. Thank you for serving your veterans, I really appreciate and respect what you're doing.
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  • Saturday, January 10, 2009 15:32 | Deleted user
    Chris, I was impressed by your wllingness to express your ideas and experiences. We all struggle at some points in our life. By joining SWBRC, you are now in with a very supportive group of veterans who want their fellow veterans to become successful and in turn they will be able to reach out to other
    veterans in need.
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 04:45 | Christopher Bush
      Dr. Cloonan, couldn't agree more. You are a success and a great role model in my eyes. If I'm able to surround myself with men of your stature then any question from spirituality to business can be answered for me. I look forward to many more years of learning from you.
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  • Sunday, January 11, 2009 09:58 | Karen Meadows-McGraw
    Chris, I am lad to see that you recognize that there is assistance available. Yes, it is difficult to locate at times, but organizations like Al's and mine are working tirelessly to correct the challenges faced by our Veterans. There is a wonderful little saying I heard a long time ago..."Heaven never puts so much on your plate that you can not handle it." You must continue to believe and trust in yourself.

    I get calls from OCONUS soldiers at all hours who are in some kind of strife. Like Al, we scramble to resolve whatever the issue might be to keep that soldier mission focused. That is one of the keys... stay mission focused, you will succeed.
    If we can help with any thing please do not hesitate to contact us.
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 04:54 | Christopher Bush
      Karen, selfless, helpful and inspirational you are to troops around the world. As a once deployed Marine, I know how hard life can get when it's impossible to get home to take care of loose ends. Your huge contribution to support your Veterans is honorable and it makes me proud to know people like yourself are dedicated to helping us. Thank you for reaching out.
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  • Sunday, January 11, 2009 17:23 | Chris Thayer
    Dear Chris,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s hard to believe that someone so young has experienced so much. It is true that the communities care and want to help; we just need to know how. I am so glad that SWVBRC is providing a program and methods for all of us to come together to help all of our beloved veterans. We believe in all of you and in your success.

    I loved seeing the picture of you with your son. He is adorable and is lucky to have you as his father. Keep believing in yourself and your goals and embrace the support and love that is available from the growing community of SWVBRC. We care and believe in you.

    God bless you and keep up the good work. Chris
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 05:18 | Christopher Bush
      Chris, I'm glad to have been given this opportunity to be involved with my community. I am thankful to people like yourself that want the best for Veterans. Something I am going through right now is being considered an out of state resident when trying to enroll in college. I was and am a defender of the Constitution and to all of America. It's hard for me to understand how I can come back and run into so many walls after honorably defending my country, not just the state I enlisted out of. I don't want to come off as complaining but rather frustrated at all the hoops I have to jump through after putting my life on the line in the name of defending liberty and freedom. Seems like many veterans get so frustrated they give up and become a statistic. This is very painful to accept but it is reality. I sincerely look up to you as a leader in my community. Thank you for being there as a problem solver and as motivation to stay positive despite hardship.
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  • Tuesday, January 13, 2009 02:12 | Darlena Wills
    Chris, I see your son joined you in signing the 14-point Agreement. YEAH! You talked about adversity in your life and I truly believe the old adage, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Being a war veteran and a U.S. Marine, I'm sure you know that already, way better than me.

    Life experience can sometimes teach us more than can books. You are a student of life. Use the wisdom and insight you've gleaned from your adversities to steer where you want to go. Keep your chin up, we're all pulling for you to be the victor! Like my dad used to say in the 70s (and I thought sounded so cool at the time), Keep On Truckin'! ~darlena~
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 05:36 | Christopher Bush
      Darlena, that little man is the center of my world. Without him being happy or cared for, my happiness is meaningless. This is why it is so important for me to keep getting up after getting knocked down, it's all for him. I can and will give him a good start in life or at least a much better one than I got. He can learn from my mistakes and I will be a father that lets him make his own errors but not ones that will set him back years. I've never loved someone as much as I love my son and that love I have for him is one powerful motivator for doing what is right.

      I am making huge leaps as a person and although it's not easy your dad was right, I gotta keep on truckin'! Thank you for being a part of our community and your thoughtful words of advice.
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  • Sunday, January 18, 2009 09:16 | Fielden Coleman
    It takes a lot of courage to open up in such a way for everyone to see. It's also intersting to see what you feel the program is about. Stay strong and remember the clouds will pass. I look forward to reading more about you as we go through the program.
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 05:46 | Christopher Bush
      Fielden, this program is a blessing for all of us. I mean it's a great opportunity to network with people that are like us, ones that care and look forward to success. I am honored to be surrounded with people like yourself.
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  • Sunday, January 18, 2009 09:34 | Samuel Luna
    Chris,that's what i like to hear,just take life as it comes and deal with it.Always look for progress not perfection,like yourself i too have fallen many times and getting up is what really counts.keep your head up good things will come at the right moments.Remember,our kids are the future,so let's work to leave them with good examples.
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 05:54 | Christopher Bush
      Samuel, there is light at the end of the tunnel and by getting involved in our community, that light is getting brighter. Thank you for your words of heartfelt honesty. I know that being down and out is not a good place to be but you and I know that those times are temporary and we are now on our way to where we want to be.
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  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 05:02 | Jeffrey Backus
    Chris, Each time that I feel down and out, I take a look at the poster in our profile picture. You have overcome other challenges and can certainly succeed now. Keep pressing forward towards your goals and be a positive role model for your son.
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    • Thursday, January 22, 2009 08:56 | Lyndon Dellis
      Really been a pleasure getting to know and work with you. Liked your 1st entry. Look forward to more.
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 05:58 | Christopher Bush
      Jeffrey, your comment reminds me of just how attainable my goals are. You have given me more hope and drive than I had just minutes ago. It is important to support each other in any way we can. Thank you for giving me that uplift and desire to keep doing better for myself and more importantly, my son.
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  • Tuesday, January 27, 2009 11:18 | Daniel Boothe
    Chris, your story was amazingly encouraging and heartfelt. I look forward to working with you in the future to fix a problem that has gone ignored to long. I like to think the center is and will be the motivation this country needs to return to her neglected veterans. If you ever need anything I am always a phone call away.
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    • Sunday, March 08, 2009 15:16 | Christopher Bush
      Hey Daniel, thanks for the kind words. I too look forward to working with you in the future to solve an unfortunate problem that seems so simple to solve. Fortunately we have many people that are getting in there and fighting this as best as can be fought. We have great growth ahead of us and the momentum of this organization is building fast.
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  • Tuesday, February 03, 2009 15:32 | Wes Koehler
    Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, 2025 hrs. Chris: This is great writing and expression. Your strength garnered from your military service will guide you through all your struggles. Our Band of Brothers at the Fallbrook veterans' center will reach out to do all we can to help at the same time. Keep up this great writing. WES
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    • Monday, March 09, 2009 18:47 | Christopher Bush
      Well thanks Wes, it feels good to still have that brotherhood even though I feel a little lost "out here" sometimes.
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  • Friday, February 13, 2009 09:32 | Laurel Ho
    Chris, I don't know what more to say then what the other folks have, so for now I will just post this quote for you.
    Douglas Macarthur:
    By profession, I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder – infinitely prouder – to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, 'Our Father who art in Heaven.' here is one more.Anonymous
    One night a father overheard his son pray: Dear God, Make me the kind of man my Daddy is. Later that night, the Father prayed, Dear God, Make me the kind of man my son wants me to be. I think you are well on the way to being the father your Son wants you to be, he is adorable. LAurel

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  • Thursday, February 19, 2009 11:10 | Sigrid Gilbert
    Chris, in my life some wonderful things have happened to me when I, like you, have been knocked off my position and forced to move in a new direction, literally move. One time I was renting the greatest house in Marin County, across the GG Bridge from San Francisco, when I was asked to move so the owners, a couple architects, could live in it while building their dream house. I was so upset; life had ended. Because of the forced move, a chain of events led me to a better house which I was eventually able to buy and to meet my husband, and . . . .
    It is so obvious that you have the great attitude, strength of character, motivation, and focus on making the most of your life with your new community at your back. It breaks my heart when a hero returns from the war to find a broken marriage. You all sacrifice so much. Well, you do have a treasure in your son who needs you and whom you will have the joy of molding as he grows. A mutual admiration and adoration there, I'm sure. All the best to you, Chris. I'm so glad you found Al and the team.
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  • Saturday, February 28, 2009 07:28 | Deleted user
    Chris, I am happy to see that your son is in that picture. I am also happy to read that at a time when you felt the world crumbing around you an society turning its back, you found Al and the center. Many, many civilians like me want to help. It hurts when I see a homeless person. Even when I see the smiling face of a Marine in his dress blues proudly displayed at a grocery story who is honoring him, their employee who is off to war, I get a little worried. I find comfort in knowing that his employer is supportive.. but still, I worry. Not just for his safety in the war zone, but for life upon his return. I know I am not the only one who worries and cares about active duty military and vets, and Al is offering us all, vets and civilians, an opportunity to make a difference.

    You write that Al told you that, "The people do not know our struggles because our stories have not been told, have not been heard and until that happens, we cannot be helped. The majority of people sees a homeless veteran laying on the sidewalk and looks at him in disgust but at the same time most "wish" there were something they could do to help him." He is so right. And he is helping is find that "something".
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  • Friday, April 17, 2009 08:06 | Taffy Dalby
    Christopher, we are surrounding you with support and pray that this opportunity will give you all you need to be equipped to earn more and to obtain a job doing something that you enjoy. The last thing I want to see is any of our veterans homeless! I personally thank you for your hard fought sacrificial work overseas. It will be awesome for you to redeem back your family situation..notice I believe you will. Don't give up, run the race to win.

    God bless you and all that you endeavor to do,
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    • Wednesday, May 27, 2009 09:31 | Eleanor Tobias
      Chris, I am looking forward to your next chapter!! I know that precious son takes a lot of your time, and well deserved, but you are of vital importance too!

      Let's here at least an update on your progress, please?!

      Best always, and all ways! Eleanor (Fran) Tobias
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  • Saturday, May 02, 2009 08:26 | Deleted user

    I enjoyed your visit at my home sometime ago and I just now am able to comment on blogs. I am very interested in your current endeavors.

    We are all here to support and serve you. Thank you for your service. Carol Grice
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  • Thursday, June 18, 2009 09:56 | Deleted user

    Although I am new to this organization, I have been donating to VA programs here in Vancouver for several years, mostly supporting the program that has been trying to get vets off of drugs. My wife saw that the center was opening in the local paper and told me that I should get out of the house and see if I could do some good for other Vets. I met Al at the opening and I was hooked. I knew that there were a lot of homeless veterans out there, but I didn't know how to help them, now I have a mission to help Al make this work up here.
    I man the office two days a week, but I will be getting even more active as we continue to ramp up.

    Like you, life has kicked me in the teeth a few times, but we can't let that stop us from moving forward. It's hard, but it's also worth it. Hang tough and believe in yourself.

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Welcoming home our men and women doesn't end after the crowd disperses, it MUST continue on for the life of the Veteran! They've served us, now we will serve them with programs that work so they reintegrate into society.

We are a national public benefit nonprofit organization that educates American Communities about best practices to serve Veterans.  We honor their service by empowering Veterans to apply their training and skills to successfully transition to productive careers and enterprises.

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