Arianna Joe joined the U.S. Army Reserves when she was 19 years old. “I loved it 100%,” Arianna said of joining the military. “I became a drill sergeant for four years.” In 2015, Arianna went to active-duty, and two years later her family transferred through a permanent change of station (PCS) to Fort Bragg, N.C., where she works at the U.S. Army Reserves Command.
While Arianna is able to telework for her job, her family, which includes her husband and 2-year-old son, relies on two incomes to pay their bills. “My paycheck only covers half our expenses.”
Arianna’s husband is a chef who owns and operates a food truck. In 2019, the business took off when he was able to prep food at a commercial commissary kitchen. “He’s been featured on military bases, car dealerships and local Fayetteville businesses,” Arianna said.
The family poured their savings into his thriving business, which is why the COVID-19 pandemic hit them especially hard. Since the coronavirus outbreak, the commissary kitchen he prepped food in has closed, and local businesses where he was once featured are now shuttered. He has been unable to operate his food truck and support the family since March.
“We contacted our electric company, water company, and landlord to let them know,” Arianna said. “The majority of companies were able to push the bills back, but said that when it’s over we will owe the full bill.” Her family started to rely on neighbors and family for help.
On top of the financial toll the virus has taken on their family, Arianna also learned that both of her parents tested positive for COVID-19. Her father, who suffers from chronic health conditions, was hospitalized after his diagnosis.
After exhausting other resources and nearly overdrafting her bank account, Arianna learned about the PenFed Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief Program after a friend sent her a link to apply on Facebook. “My biggest concern was, ‘how are we going to pay rent?’”
Arianna applied for assistance with rent when the program opened in mid-March. “I put in the application, and was approved in 11 days.”
The assistance helped her avoid overdrafting her family’s savings account. And, Arianna has received more good news: her father is out of the hospital and starting to recover from COVID-19.
“Thank God for the PenFed Foundation,” she said.
The PenFed Foundation was the first veterans service organization to launch a COVID-19 relief program to provide financial assistance. To date, we’ve helped more than 500 service members and veterans. In addition to emergency financial assistance for service members and veterans, we also provide veteran-owned companies the resources and network to access capital to build and grow their businesses through the Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP). To learn more about ongoing pop-up webinars to educate small businesses on opportunities available during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit veip.penfedfoundation.org.
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