Marine Captain Cameron West was so grateful to the Homes For Our Troops staff upon being welcomed into the HFOT Family in 2014, he felt called to do something in return. “I wanted to give back by providing my personal insight into the necessities of the home while also furthering the connection between Veterans and the wonderful staff working within HFOT,” he says.
Shortly after his acceptance into the HFOT family, Cameron joined the Veteran Action and Advisory Team (VAAT). The VAAT is a team of HFOT Veterans that guides and mentors HFOT Veterans and staff on a wide range of topics, including product selections and design improvements to the homes. The group also provides insight to the Veteran community, and is a resource for HFOT Veterans dealing with challenges. Cameron has been on the team since its inception and in May 2020, volunteered for the role of VAAT President.
The committee consists of the following HFOT Veterans and caregivers:
- Marine Capt Cameron West (2015 HFOT home recipient)
- Army SGT Juan Arredondo (Future 2023 home recipient)
- Army SGT Annettia “Netta” Huff, wife of Army SGT Brandon Huff (2023 HFOT home recipient)
- Army SSG Michael and April Lage (2019 HFOT home recipient)
- Army MSG Eric Marts (2017 HFOT home recipient)
- Marine SPC YevgeniY “Yev” Shenker (2022 HFOT home recipient)
Cameron finds the connections he makes during outreach calls to be the most fulfilling part about being on the VAAT. During his time as president, he plans to focus on facilitating relationships between HFOT Families who live in the same region. “Since severely injured Veterans are such a small percentage of the much larger Veteran population, I think it is important for those individuals and families to continue those strong connections with others in similar situations,” he says. “This would hopefully prevent isolation for Veterans by having friends to confide in as most of us did with our fellow warriors during rehab. This benefits not only the Veteran populace but also the civilian communities by creating healthier and stronger families within them.”
In addition to his work on the VAAT, Cameron has several significant accomplishments in his personal life since receiving his home in Acworth, Ga., in 2015. He and his wife have had two of their three children; he has started a business raising cattle for commercial and registered Angus breeders; and his wife has started her own private practice. “The home’s layout is perfect for a wheelchair user or someone who needs an ADA compliant situation. It makes it possible for me to be a stay-at-home dad during the week with three kids, and then ranch and work on the weekends,” he says.
Former HFOT President Steven Curry, who had been leading the team since 2017, says he has full confidence in passing the torch to his successor. “Cam has been an integral part of the VAAT. I believe his knowledge of the organization, dedication to the mission, and leadership qualities will prove to be extremely valuable to HFOT,” Steven says.
Steven says he is proud of the accomplishments the team and he achieved during his time as president, especially staying connected with Veterans and providing insight to the Board and executives from a Veteran perspective. As for his future plans, Steven is focusing on his flight training and working toward his goal of transitioning his career out of a cubicle and into the cockpit.
The VAAT president has a seat on the HFOT Board of Directors. Board Chairman GEN (ret.) Richard Cody has been impressed with the knowledge Steven has provided the Board of Directors and is looking forward to working with Cameron. “I am incredibly proud of the work Steven accomplished leading the VAAT and serving as a Board Member. His knowledge and insight have been vital to the Board and the organization. While we will miss Steven’s expertise, I am thrilled to have Cameron take the lead. He has been an influential member of the VAAT since its inception in 2014, and I am looking forward to seeing him continue the VAAT’s momentum,” says GEN Cody.