Like many of the women in the room, Miller, now president and chief executive of the nonprofit group John 14:2 Inc., has been in tough spots. Almost two decades ago, she was discharged from the Navy for medical reasons and eventually found herself homeless.
(Photos: Faces of veteran homelessness)
“When you get out, you don’t have that security blanket anymore,” she said, referring to housing and other benefits the military provided her.
In 1992, Miller, who was a boatswain’s mate third class, left the Navy after four years. Her husband, William, a Marine corporal, had left the service 18 months earlier after deciding not to reenlist. William had been promised a job in the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Philadelphia. But budget cuts eliminated the opening, and the couple and their 3-year-old son, William Jr., went to live with Miller’s parents in Hempstead, N.Y., her home town.
“I was lucky that I had family to go home to,” she said.
But that changed, too.
Another relative with three small children needed the room, so the Millers had to leave. They lived in what Ginger Miller describes as “substandard conditions” — at one point, in their car.
They finally settled into a one-bedroom basement apartment where they were able to do some minor renovations to make it feel more like a home for their son.
Miller said she would ask herself: “How do you excel? He deserves better.”
Using her veteran’s benefits, she enrolled full time at Hofstra University in Hempstead. She also worked three part-time jobs.
“I really didn’t have time to think about the conditions that I was in, because I was so busy trying to get out,” she said.
Miller graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. After five years as a bank loan officer, she decided to start John 14:2, which helps veterans and their families who are experiencing the challenges that lead to homelessness.
“I decided to create John 14:2 because God was telling me to do something for veterans who did not have a strong support system the way my husband did,” she said. The group was founded in April 2009.
The name comes from Scripture: “In my father’s house there are many rooms: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Her organization has helped more than 100 veterans and their families through rent assistance, referral services, and food and toy distributions. Now Miller is looking for properties in the District and surrounding areas to create affordable housing for veterans. John 14:2 works with the Washington VA Medical Center,
AMVETS, Prince George’s County, and the federal and Maryland departments of veterans affairs.
“I just thank God that I am one of the blessed ones,” Miller said. “My place is to help and be a support system.”