She is also spearheading the Coldwell Banker Westlake Office’s clothing drive for the Wade Oval Veterans Hospital here in Cleveland.
A Veteran who has been left feeling displaced in the civilian world is an all too familiar feeling for Laura, even after 25 years post service connected Honorable discharge.
“I have spent numerous holidays, birthdays and many other missed holidays on the other side of the globe not only from being in the service, yet for personal relocation purposes as well,” she says. “That being said, the definition of home has a more profound meaning than most would reference had they never had to leave or stray very far from their home-base where they had most of their upbringing occur.”
Initially, the idea of traveling and spending every couple of years in a completely new place, thousands of miles away was part of the appeal as to why Laura joined the U.S. Navy.
“My initial orders to Rota, Spain were very intimidating and terrifying, to be not only on the other side of the planet from everyone and everything that felt familiar, yet to be in a country where I would not know the language let alone anyone – or the topography – was overwhelming to say the least,” she recalls. “I had to learn to lean into my fellow enlisted to become my support system and create close bonds with many as a tight-knit group of friends that eventually became “my family.” It never “replaced” the ones I loved back “home”, especially during the holidays and other milestones.
“My 2nd tour of duty landed me on an aircraft carrier outside of Seattle, WA which I was the 83rd woman of 2,000 to step onboard as. As one can now realize, I had become proficient at adapting to ‘new environments’ to call ‘home.’
“Since my discharge, I’ve utilized my VA Home Loan and purchased a home in Westlake, Ohio while having a 9 year career at NASA GRC. Yet that backdrop of never feeling settled in one place too long still lingered and I found myself liquidating my life in Australia, then Florida, DC and California.
“My recent return to my native homebase of Cleveland to be near family had inspired me to obtain my Real Estate license to be able to assist my fellow Veterans in their home search because I empathize with this mental framework of never really feeling like you ‘belong’ or feel ‘settled’ in one place for very long. Or worse yet, that my fellow Veterans are unaware of their entitlement to VA home loan benefits, such as zero money down and closing cost assistance.”
“Home” changes zip code and scenery. The community can change a hundred times over. But where you call “home,” I have learned, is not necessarily where you began your life, but where you FEEL most “at home.” This is why I’ve felt called to shift my career to be a Real Estate Agent and feel so passionate about sharing the milestone of assisting not only my fellow Veterans, yet my community to find their “home” or move on from their current one.
I have the lens and experiences of knowing how to be open to the needs of what “feels like home” for one person is so very diverse from another.