Organization helps veteran who says felony conviction overshadowed her service

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Persian Gulf War veteran told FOX4 she was honorably discharged in 1995, but came home to fight a very different battle.

“I was under the influence a lot,” admitted Teresa Thompson. “A lot of my problems have been drug related, then I got a forgery charge and they sentenced me to three years.”

Thompson’s time spent behind bars was split between three different institutions: Richmond, Vandalia and Chillicothe.

“When I got out, I had nothing; no home, no car, no money and no one wants to talk to a felon.”

Thompson told FOX4 her time spent serving the country was overshadowed by her time behind bars.

“My son was upset at me and rightfully so,” said Thompson. “I left him and he needed me.”

Thompson was released from prison in March of 2019 and now eight months later she has a very different story to tell.

“I’m working; stable – I’m about to get my funeral directors license reinstated and I’ve been sober for over a year now,” she said, smiling. “I owe this to Candance at Help KC.”

The Help KC  is a local organization that works to empower formerly incarcerated women through advocacy and employment. The founder, Candance Wesson, told FOX4 that her mission is to provide women with more than she had after she was release from prison.

“It’s a God given vision from my experience with the criminal justice system,” said Wesson. “We are partnered with Swope Health services so, if the women need a physical or exam they can go to Swope and have that done free of charge.”

The Help KC also offers a toiletry closet, résumé building opportunities and employment to women who choose to seek those benefits. Wesson told FOX4 that she has helped nearly 200 women since the start of her organization three years ago.

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