Joann Irons is just getting settled in her new apartment. Irons, 46, is grateful to have a place to call home. Less than a week ago she was homeless.
Looking around her quaint home Irons said "a lot of people would be like, you're in a shoebox. I don't' care, it's mine, I can put a key in, turn the chamber and I'm at home."
Christmas came early for Irons, thanks to several organizations. Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin helped her find permanent housing.
"We have a property owner here who cares deeply about veterans and is willing to overlook barriers to housing in their past," said Tommy Johnson, veterans coordinator for CAPSH.
Patrons at the Golden Valley American Legion collected money to help Irons get a head start. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Quad Communities donated household items.
"We've helped set her up in the kitchen. We brought her a microwave, and the kinds of things she couldn't have access to," said Marshall Tanick, president of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Quad Communities.
Besides getting a home for the holidays, Irons says she's getting something much more valuable—peace of mind.
"I feel at home now. It's like okay, I feel comfortable."
It's been a long time coming for Irons. She served four years in the Navy and received an honorable discharge due to mental trauma suffered from a sexual assault by one of her shipmates.
"I just didn't report it, so it was like it never happened, because it wasn't documented. But I still struggle from day to day," she said.
Although mental health issues have plagued Irons in the past, she says things are looking up these days.
"I go to the VA. I've got a mental health team that I go and I try get into programs to try and help me deal with those issues," she said.
With a new home and healthy mindset, Irons is getting back on track.
"I never really, you know, had anything like this happen to me. So it's like a blessing," Irons said. "I'm just grateful, I'm just eternally grateful."
Sonya Goins, email@example.com