Dear Sentinels of Freedom,

I would like to take this opportunity to write your organization a letter of gratitude and appreciation for the assistance I received during my degree program.

Just before I started my graduate program at California State University Los Angeles, I lost my job due to company cutbacks. I was workings as a project manager, supervising contractors on military bases. Lacking the education to qualify for other jobs, I needed to return to school to pursue a meaningful career. I also wanted to help other Veterans and decided counseling would be my calling. I was accepted for a graduate degree program in counseling at California State University Los Angeles. I needed to attend full-time in order to start working as soon as possible but this also caused a financial burden on my marriage.

The loss of income required my wife who is a school teacher, to fully support our household financially. This also required her to put off paying her student loans and debt. Additionally, I was required to pay child support and alimony from my previous marriage. These commitments made our lives very stressful and I felt anxiety almost every day not being able to support my family.

A quarter way through my program, I was informed that the Sentinels of Freedom might be able to provide financial assistance while I was attending school. I applied for your program and was awarded a housing scholarship. This was like winning the lottery and I couldn’t believe that I was selected. The day I received that phone call, relieved all my stress and anxiety.

The scholarship allowed our family to have a life once again and manage our debt. The scholarship also reduced the financial tension in the household and enabled me to complete my degree program full-time. This also allowed me to complete my internship hours that required 20 hours a week, which would have not been possible if I had to get a part-time job. I completed my internship at the Long Beach VA assisting veterans start new careers and identify educational goals.

After I completed my degree in 2019, I applied for a job at the VA. I am proud to say that I work for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and assist other veterans in their journey transitioning from the military back into the community.

I would like to thank your organization once again for all the support and assistance that was provided to my family. Without the support, I don’t believe I could have accomplished my educational goals and supported my family during those difficult years. I would be honored to be an ambassador or mentor for future Sentinels.


Erik Alston