Zachary Taylor grew up in Utah where he joined the Marine Corps right out of high school in 2005. He served in the Iraq war in a combat zone, where he was a machine gunner. Though the structure of the military was difficult, he says: “I love it. I loved what I did being a machine gunner. I love the gun, the friends, and the brotherhood. When you’re in situations you could guarantee that they had your back.” This brotherhood, he says, is still there today. This positive attitude is even more astounding when you find out that Zachary ran over three IUDS during combat and was blown up, and shot five times. Not only did this cause bodily harm, but severe brain and emotional damage, including PTSD. In 2007, Zachary was sent to a therapist, and when the Marine Corps downsized, Zachary was one of the marines to be kicked out, despite his desire to stay and serve.
After returning home, Zachary, still struggling with the emotional and physical consequences of his time in combat, received 80% disability through the VA. This was not enough to support himself, his wife, and his three autistic children and when he reapplied for 100% disability, he was reduced to 60% as a response.
Unable to work because of severe PTSD, he filed bankruptcy and him and his family were homeless on and off. In his own words: “It was eye opening, being homeless and having my kids and wife and having to take care of all that. It was eye opening.” While applying for low income housing, Zachary came across a pamphlet for A Soldier’s Home. A week later, he gave them a call and not long after, found himself an official homeowner.
He says that his experience with A Soldier’s Home was awesome and easier than he anticipated. He emphasizes the emotional changes that have occurred with the stability of being a homeowner, not only for himself, but for his family. He says the biggest thing is that his kids have a place to play and go, when they didn’t have that before. A Soldier’s Home brought stability to him and his family.
Vaughn joined the Army in 1979 after dropping out of high school. He completed Basic Training at Fort Knox and continued on to serve for three years. He made this decision at only nineteen years old. When asked what motivated him to join the Armed Forces, it was his need for a job and a way to sustain himself. Two and a half of his three years of service were in Germany, where he said it was one of the most educational and exciting experiences of his life.
When Vaughn returned from service though, it was an entirely different story. He did not attempt to get any help from the VA, nor did they attempt to help him. When asked about his experience after returning from the Army he says: “Going to school and getting a GED and accomplishing some goals was good. Basically, it was about education and trying to get into a career.” He received his GED and enrolled in schooling to become a nurse.
Vaughn worked for sixteen years as a CNA and then moved to Utah, where high housing prices left him evicted from his apartment and in a coalition. This is where he found “A Soldier’s Home.” After working alongside A Soldier’s Home, we are proud to say that Vaughn owns his own home and has a steady job, where he just received a promotion. When asked to reflect on his experience with A Soldier’s Home, he says it was an immensely positive one and their work was “excellent”.