Supporter Spotlight: Lawrence Thornhill
From One Veteran to Another
Lawrence Thornhill knows that sometimes the best person to help a veteran is another veteran—that’s why he’s interning with our Veterans Services while he studies for his master’s degree in social work through Rutgers University. Through his internship, Lawrence, who is a veteran himself, works directly with vets to help them with housing and employment. Recently, he chatted with us about his passion for his work and why these services are so vital to veterans.
Q: Are there any particular stories or instances where you felt like you really made a difference through your volunteer work?
A: With every veteran I talk to, I can relate to their situation. The military provides structure, and when you get out, you don’t have that structure anymore. Some people don’t know how to deal with that… I can see why [veterans] are in the situation of being homeless or jobless, so I try to relate to them and take a non-judgmental approach. It’s about motivating them and helping them to know there are people who are not going to judge them.
Every time I work with a veteran I give them my all, and try to build that rapport. I want them to know that we are here to help you get to your goals. We are going to help pick you up when you fall down because that’s what social work is all about.
Q: What good things do you see our Veterans Services doing in the community?
A: TAP’s veterans programs focus specifically on the veterans’ needs—the ones who fell on hard luck and are not where they want to be in life. Either they’re underemployed or not employed at all. Perhaps they got into drugs and other barriers that are going to hinder them from being successful. The veterans program gives them the opportunity to get their foot back into the door of society and reintegrate back into a lifestyle of being able to maintain their own household. We are there to help them all the way, to counsel them, to motivate them, to empower them to get to where they want to be and get to the point that they no longer need our support.
Q: Sometimes we have individuals who make donations to our Veterans Services. Do you think TAP’s veterans programs are a good investment, and if so, why?
A: I believe it’s a good investment because you’re absolutely helping someone who wants to reintegrate back into society. The veterans TAP is serving—it’s not like we are going out there finding them—they are coming to us asking for help to get back on their feet. It’s not just talk that will get them where they want to be, it’s having donations for the program so we can buy a veteran new boots when he starts a job, or providing a bus pass for a veteran who lost his car. Having those donations helps the program continue to help veterans get off the street, back into society, and participating in the American Dream.