FOREST CITY | Family Alliance for Veterans of America saved Willa Klamp-Carrillo’s life.
Klamp-Carrillo, a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1981 to 1988 as an ammunition specialist, struggled with drug addiction and homelessness before learning about the organization based in Forest City that educates, advocates and supports veterans and their families at a time of critical need.
“I just want you all to know if any of you other veterans’ associates have any type of moral stamina, physical stamina, spiritual stamina, like Rose Holmes does, this program will live on into infinity,” she said. “Believe me, it will because it worked for me. I’m the worst of the worst, and I know it’ll work for other veterans.”
Klamp-Carrillo of Carroll shared her story with a room of nearly 30 individuals Tuesday, Nov. 7, during a program organized by Family Alliance for Veterans of America, or FAVA, to accept a $30,000 donation from AT&T.
The donation provides matching funds for two FAVA initiatives: Supportive Services for Veterans Families, which connects veterans to resources like classes, food and household items, and the Passport to Independence program, which provides housing veterans who are homeless or disabled at FAVA House in Forest City.
“They sent me a person who understood that she wasn’t there to heal me, to fix me, to do anything like that sort, but she was there in a capacity of total and complete compassion,” said Klamp-Carrillo of Supportive Services for Veterans Families. “That’s what FAVA is. FAVA is a, organization that offers hope, offers a sense of strong, strong stability of the mind in order to continue your life on an acceptable, legal, basis.”
Rose Holmes, a FAVA veteran advocate, spoke about Supportive Services for Veterans Families and the individuals she has served before introducing Klamp-Carrillo. FAVA serves veterans in more than 40 counties spanning North Iowa.
“It’s amazing the hugs you get just for delivering that stuff, and it’s really humbling because I know I’m just a middle person,” she said. “It’s the grace of God. It’s people like you who give us what we need to deliver to the veterans who are so well-deserving.”
The program also featured comments from retired Brig. Gen. Jodi Tymeson, Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs executive director, and Forest City Mayor Barney Ruiter — both expressing appreciation for FAVA and Rhonda Jordal, FAVA director.
“I also want to be sure to give credit to Rhonda because of her frustration and out of her heart FAVA became a reality,” Tymeson said. “FAVA exists because this mom of a veteran made it happen, and then, she enlisted the help of a whole lot of other fantastic people dedicated to serving those who served us and their families.”
Ruiter, a Vietnam Era veteran, said FAVA, whose staff is comprised entirely of veterans or families of veterans, is amazing and the grant it received is well-deserved.
Dustin Blythe, AT&T Iowa external affairs director, said AT&T’s contribution was made possible thanks to a collaboration between AT&T and Tymeson and a desire to continue to support veterans.
“I couldn’t be more honored to present our check today for $30,000 to this group, to FAVA,” he said.
Jordal said, “Thank you again for your support. It means a lot.”
After the program, refreshments and tours were offered.