As Veteran's Day approaches, we are honoring a mother from Orange County who has spent her career offering hope, stability and legal aid to thousands of veterans.
Antoinette Balta is making a difference, and she's our KNX Hero of the Week!
Six years ago, the former JAG officer discovered a big need in the Southern California community.
"I was working at a private legal aid, and I noticed there was an influx of veterans coming in from Iraq and Afghanistan to the homeless shelters. I realized very quickly that the reason for their homelessness was different from their civilian counter-parts," explains Balta. "Because of that, I felt that we really needed some military-specific legal aids. And, there just wasn't one! So, out of that was born Veterans Legal Institute. To date, we've served over 8,000 veterans."
The non-profit exclusively handles an array of legal concerns. "We process a lot of veteran benefits appeals, that are complex. Specifically, for veterans who are suffering from illnesses related to their service that are invisible, like post-traumatic stress, or traumatic brain injury."
VLI also helps veterans who may have suffered sexual trauma, those who may need discharge upgrades, or help with landlord/tenant issues, or bankruptcy.
And in 2020, things have been extremely tough with COVID-19.
"You know, the elephant in the room is that twenty-two veterans a day take their own life. And with the pandemic, and the onset of this novel trauma, it’s been difficult," says VLI's Executive Director.
Pedram Bazargani is one of VLI's volunteers, and he says Antoinette's leadership is praiseworthy. "She's always looking for new ways to improve our organization. And overall, really cares about what she's doing. She really cares about the veterans, and the community."
Antoinette Balta is a mother, a leader, and our KNX Hero of the Week!
"I feel very blessed. I believe that service deserves support and I like to pay it forward," says Balta. "I find myself very lucky to do the work that I do, and when you help people out and give them a hand up, you see that they in turn pay it forward. And, it just creates a better community for everybody."
KNX Heroes brought to you by California Resources Corporation, saluting our military veterans, and all of our heroes!
Veterans Legal Institute is having a special online fundraiser featuring some of Hollywood's biggest stars this Monday, November 9th. For more information, or to donate, go to https://www.vetslegal.com/
To see some of the work that Antoinette and her team at VLI have done, click: https://youtu.be/585ipPK4d5o
If you have a person in your life that you'd like to nominate as an upcoming KNX Hero of the Week, fill out a submission form at https://www.audacy.com/knx1070/nominate