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Vet’s job is assisting other vets

By Rita Howell
LaQueda Turner has much in common with the clients she serves as the Family Readiness Coordinator with the Mississippi Veterans Support Network.

She’s a veteran, too.

Turner, 38, served in the Navy for five and a half years, having joined just after high school.
Her Navy training led her to positions in human resources both during her Navy stint and after. And now she is using both her HR skills and her military background to help veterans and their families.

She is one of 20 vets now working across the state with Americorps Mississippi as Family Readiness Coordinators. Turner serves Yalobusha, Panola, and Lafayette counties and has been on the job since October.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays she is in her Batesville office at 103 Bates Street from 9-5.
She has been averaging a dozen clients per month, but she is hoping to spread the word and reach more veterans and their families.

“I’m hungry to help,” Turner said.

She acts as a liaison to help veterans with services ranging from food to filling out VA loan forms, to job hunting, to mental health treatment.

So far, many of her clients have sought out help as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from their service in war zones.

Turner has a thick notebook full of contact numbers for every sort of help available to veterans. She can quickly put a PTSD sufferer in touch with another vet who is trained to help, and all the service is strictly confidential, she noted.

A few Vietnam vets have come to her for help related to long-ago exposure to Agent Orange, the chemical used by the U.S. military to defoliate jungle areas, depriving enemy fighters of cover.
She can assist veterans in filing for other disabilities related to their service.

 She’ll help vets fill out paperwork for VA loans.

“When I got out of the Navy I wanted to build a house but I didn’t know how to go about getting the loan,” she said. “I’d earned the benefits but I didn’t know how to go about getting them.”
She can also help vets arrange to pass on their Montgomery GI Bill college benefits to their children.

Turner can put a veteran in touch with resources to help them start a business. She helped one mother, a veteran, find child care so she would return to work.

She’s arranged for baskets of food for veterans in need and has found help to pay utility bills.
Turner, a widow, makes her home with her two teenage sons in rural Yalobusha County, where they love to hunt and fish and she loves to garden. She’s a member of Green Goshen CME Church.

Veterans or their family members can reach her anytime at 662-473-6900.

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