MSGT Martin Ventress, USAF, Executive Director
Sgt Stan Cheswick, USA, Case Manager
Sgt. Gary Sirois, USMC, Case Manager
Sgt. Scott Harington, USMC, Resident Manager
Sgt. Steven Streeter, USA, Resident Manager
MSgt Martin Ventress
In March 2015, former Air Force Master Sargeant Martin Ventress knocked on the door of Veterans First OC (Supportive and Affordable Housing for Veterans) in need of assistance. Martin had served in the military for 15 years from Vietnam through Operation Desert Storm. After completing his first tour as an Aircraft Mechanic, he re-enlisted as a Flight Crew Member.
Following his honorable discharge, he flew for Japan Airlines. Unfortunately, Martin reported gross negligent safety violations against the airlines, which got him fired in 2003. A lawsuit ensued that reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Ultimately, he paid the price for “trying to do the right thing” as during the 13-year litigation. Martin lost his career and everything he worked for by the unlawful termination from the airlines and ended up homeless, jobless and penniless.
While dealing with health issues at the VA Hospital in Long Beach he heard about Veterans First OC in Santa Ana. Unwilling to share his narrative while at the VA with non-military VA personnel, Martin found camaraderie among other veterans in what is known as the Broadway House. The fact of sharing stories with other veterans is therapy for all the veterans living there. A bed, a shower, lots of food, Cable TV, computers, internet and various resources helped him deal with his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
After just two months at The Broadway House, Veterans First OC offered Martin a job as a Resident Manager that he willfully accepted. He understands the various difficulties some veterans experience (combat, drug/alcohol abuse, divorce, physical injuries and mental illnesses, including Depression… to name a few). Veterans First OC believes in “tough love” … helping (not enabling) veterans to “help themselves”.
Martin exemplifies the perfect Resident Manager as he finds it rewarding breaking bread with other veterans. He greets veterans with a firm handshake, gives them a pat on the back, a brotherly hug and has shared their tears while being there for them during their pain and troubles. Sharing IS caring!
“I have witnessed firsthandand have heard of countless veterans who successfully traveled my similar path through Veterans First OC.”