July 07,2016

How Monica Ortiz Overcame Homelessness as a Veteran and Single-Mother

After graduating high school in 1990 and working a series of unfulfilling jobs, Monica Ortiz felt that she needed to do something purposeful with her life so she enlisted in the United States Navy. Following in her grandfather’s footsteps, Ortiz learned the importance of teamwork and what it means to reach outside of one’s comfort zone which helped her achieve status as a 3.8 sailor (or a “must promote”).
Her life was going well, but while working her way up in status, Ortiz was attacked by a shipmate. She returned home to her husband and daughter, but her family was soon broken, too. A single mother with a one year old baby, she found herself living out of her car, trying to make a bed out of her backseat. In a desperate time of need, she called a help line which triggered a turn of events.

Reflecting on her rough times, she says she didn’t know that she was struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “I thought it was just me,” she says. And, for female veterans that find themselves in difficult times, she says, “Reach out. You feel alone. You’re not alone.”

Ortiz now lives in the Bay Area with her two children and is proud when she says that each has their own bedroom.