Tim DiMarco served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army infantry and prides himself on being independent.
But he knew he couldn’t overcome his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder without help and turned to the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center in May 2022.
“I was fighting it,” DiMarco said in a VA release. “I didn’t want to say I was homeless. I didn’t want to say I lost my business, but I couldn’t stay on the floor at my ex-girlfriend’s mom’s house any longer.
It wasn’t drugs or alcohol that brought the Arny veteran and welder into Pennsylvania medical center that day.
“I went broke because I lost my shop, and then I had a mental breakdown,” he explained.
His small business was barely making it, but the new contract he was awarded was going to bring in the money he needed to catch up on his rent. That was January 2020. Then he got sick and ended up in quarantine with COVID-19.
“I was violently sick and nobody knew what it was,” he added.
DiMarco lost his shop, but not his passion for welding. In October of that year, he stopped by the Voluntary Services office to drop off a piece of art he wanted to donate. The pieces, which spell Coatesville VA Medical Center, are made from local railroad materials. DiMarco used the skills he learned in 2014 while using the G.I. Bill to start his welding business to make the art.
Now, DiMarco has turned his craft into a creative outlet.
“The artwork fulfills a need inside,” he explained. “It’s a desire for destruction and creation through everything. Maybe it’s the airborne infantry in me.”
Donating the metalwork was a way to give back to the medical center. DiMarc grew up in Coatesville, a steel town that relies on the railroad.
“I preach the programs here,” he said. “Coatesville VA has been good to me. Whether you’ve been to war or not, use the system. It’s there for you.”
DiMarco graduated from the Merakey Fresh Start Grant and Per Diem programs and with the support available to veterans through Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers to help with the cost of rent, he now has a house to live in.
To help a veteran apply for their earned benefits, visit here.
Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.