Leshonda Gill Our Friend

The call came in, and the wagons began to circle. How could it be that our friend, Wounded Warrior Leshonda Gill, was homeless in our nation’s capital? Sgt. Gill, “Shy” to those of who call her friend, bravely served in the U.S. military from 1995 to 2003 as an Army Chemical Operations Specialist.

It was during her deployment in Iraq that an explosion killed eight of the 24 soldiers in her convoy.  Shy was one of the “lucky” ones. “I lost my kidney, my spleen, both my intestines and all but seven of my teeth,” Gill said. She also suffered fractured orbitals in both eyes, as well as a fractured jaw.

Now 35 years old, Shy had bounced around from place to place, and had been without a permanent home for years. But the idea of her now living on the streets of D.C. was unacceptable. Our military members leave the comforts of home and family, and sacrifice so much so that we can live our lives in comfort and freedom. The very least they deserve when they come home is decent housing, affordable healthcare, and a good education *or* a good job.

Within forty-eight hours, Shy was on a plane to Los Angeles. She is turning her life around, and has found a new purpose. She is sharing her moving story of survival with foster children and at-risk youth. She knows that these children are fighting a war of their own, and Sgt. Gill is there to speak to them.  “War is hard and difficult,” Gill said. “But there is a war out on these streets and these kids are in the middle of it.”

By sharing her misfortunes with the children who listened to her speak, the children felt comfortable enough to share their own stories and connect to Sgt.Gill, and to each other.

We see a bright future for Shy. She is currently living in a transitional facility for female vets in Downtown Los Angeles, with an eye to getting a place of her own soon. Although she is still recovering from her injuries and battles with depression, Shy finds strength in the talks she has with kids.  We are proud to call Sgt. Leshonda “Shy” Gill our friend.