Traumatized and Invisible: Demetrius’ Story

It’s an outrage when our country refuses to care for our nation’s heroes after their military service, but that’s exactly what happened to Demetrius Friend*, a Veteran whose military service left him with serious psychological wounds.

When Demetrius first turned to Inner City Law Center for help, he was in a dark place. He was struggling with schizoaffective disorder because of his experiences in the service, and he was living on the streets.

Demetrius was so suspicious of others that he was only able to share his story in bits and pieces. He had a difficult time trusting others enough to open up about his mental health struggles.

The military had misdiagnosed him, discharged him, and denied him his rightful benefits. Facing homelessness and severe psychological distress, Demetrius had no legal support and no chance of getting the benefits and healthcare he had earned – healthcare that he urgently needed to treat his mental illness.

Demetrius felt helpless. He had given everything for his country, and he had been forgotten. We filed a claim on Demetrius’s behalf. We also arranged for transportation for him to attend necessary
appointments and exams. In July 2022, Demetrius was granted service-connected benefits at a permanent 100% disability level. He received $55,000 in retroactive benefits and will receive $3,600 monthly for the rest of his life.

Unfortunately, when the VA granted his case, Demetrius did not have a bank account, and the VA mailed his check to his old address, which he no longer had access to. Immediately, ICLC helped him set
up a bank account and followed up with the VA about the check that needed to be canceled. We
asked the VA to run a tracer and reissue the check via direct deposit to Demetrius’s new bank account. Ittook some time, but that $55,000 was eventually deposited into his account.

Demetrius then acknowledged needing more help with his mental health symptoms and agreed to
inpatient treatment. At the same time, ICLC contacted multiple supportive housing organizations
for assistance with finding Demetrius a permanent home so that he had a plan in place after he was
discharged from inpatient treatment. Finally, Demetrius was in good health on Memorial Day weekend
and moved into permanent supportive housing in Los Angeles. He has since obtained a driver’s
license, car, and insurance.

* Names have been changed and photos may not depict ICLC clients. We take client privacy seriously and make these changes to protect client confidentiality.