Mr. Irby is a war veteran of both the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War. As with many veterans, the stark change between military action and a quieter home front was not an easy transition. In Phoenix and, for a time, Mr. Irby found himself homeless. It was at that time that Irby determined to turn his life around by going to college. He registered at Phoenix College and quickly immersed himself in student life and his studies. Later received a scholarship for AZ Heroes to Hometowns to attend University of Phoenix to get his degree.
Mr. Irby landed a job at the Phoenix VA Regional Office and became the first full time Homeless Veteran Outreach Coordinator / Justice Involved Coordinator for the office. As a HVOC / JIVC, Anthony provides information about the broad range of VA benefits and he assists on filing applications for VA benefits and services to homeless veterans throughout the state of Arizona. Anthony has visited homeless and financial stricken veterans at shelters, soup kitchens, camp encampments, jails, hospitals, parks, run down apartments and hotels. Most of the places that Anthony, goes to are areas infested with high crime, drugs and poverty but those issues does not stop him on serving our homeless veterans. He also established as well as maintains an effective collaborative network of open communications and referral system with non-profit community homeless specific organizations, homeless advocacy groups and other support activities.
Anthony has become a strong advocate for homeless veteran issues. He participated in the Arizona Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness Among Veterans Planning Summit, which the core goal is to create the capacity to ensure no veteran in Arizona, must remain on the streets. He was also a planning member for the Arizona Stand-down, an event that provides services to homeless veterans such as food, shelter, employment, and VA benefits.
Hello, I’m SGT (Retired) Tom Bishop, Forward Observer for the U.S. Army. I was deployed to Iraq two times during my 4 1/2 year enlistment. Once in 2004 with 1st ID and during the troop surge in 2006 with 1st CAV. I was injured both deployments, the first time a result of an I.E.D blast that severed my left 5th (pinky) toe. After a full recovery I was able to deploy again where I was once again the subject of another I.E.D blast. This one more severe than the first and resulted in a medical retirement from the military.
I spent many months in recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio where I spent long days going through therapy with my wife Jennifer by my side. I was very lucky to make it home and witness the unbelievable outpouring of support coming from these great people and organizations. I am humbled to no end as I have witnessed a different side of humanity that few have the privilage to see. This has strengthened my resolve to make sure I don’t take for granted the life that I have been spared and to help others in need.