New Directions for Veterans Remembers Marlys “Marti” Moore-Jackson
Aug 11, 2015 | By Bob Helfant | No Comments
Champion for Veterans’ Services Helped Shape Agency’s Future
LOS ANGELES, August 11, 2015 – Building 116 on the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System campus was abandoned and dilapidated when Larry Williams took Marlys “Marti” Moore-Jackson on a tour of the three-story structure one stormy evening in 1992.
Rain poured in through the damaged ceiling and thunder rumbled outside as the group walked, flashlights in hand, down the dark halls of the cavernous structure that housed the VA’s old medical equipment and other campus discards. It was a scene out of a horror movie — literally. The 60,000 square foot brick building built in 1929 was a location for one of the Freddy Krueger horror films.
That evening, just when the tour group thought things couldn’t get any creepier, a bolt of lightning struck outside a nearby window, illuminating a room that still reflected the movie’s terrifying decor. “Marti screamed, ‘Larry, what IS this place?’” recalled Williams, cofounder of New Directions for Veterans (NDVets).
Rep. Maxine Waters wanted a report ASAP on Building 116, and Marti Moore was the congresswoman’s staff member responsible for getting into the building and writing that report. Williams was only trying to be as accommodating and helpful as Moore had been since the day they met months before.
‘Marti helped open the door’
NDVets, known as New Directions at the time, had been seeking funding to purchase two homes in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles: the home the agency had been renting to launch its program for homeless veterans and a second house to serve homeless women veterans. Despite the worthwhile cause, the agency couldn’t find any takers.
“We made phone calls and wrote letters to every elected official you could think of,” Williams said. “But we weren’t getting anywhere.”
During a repeat visit to Rep. Waters office to try to get a meeting with the congresswoman, Williams, along with cofounder John Keaveney and other New Directions representatives, caught Moore’s attention when she overheard them talking about serving veterans. Moore had one brother who died in Vietnam and another who returned from Vietnam and had to overcome his struggles with PTSD, Williams said. The veteran cause was personal for Moore.
After meeting with the New Directions team herself, Moore arranged a meeting with Waters that eventually resulted in Waters sponsoring a special purpose Congressional grant of $1.5 million for the agency. Not only did the grant help New Directions build a solid foundation, Waters’ advocacy helped the agency win the additional political support needed to obtain a 50-year lease for Building 116. The former horror movie location would be completely renovated to become an award-winning, state-of-the-art transitional housing facility for homeless veterans, as well as the headquarters for New Directions.
Williams believes a great deal of thanks for that critical funding goes to Moore. “Marti helped open the door for New Directions at Maxine Waters’ office,” he said.
Going above and beyond
Helping the agency get a foot in the door was only the beginning of more than a decade of services that Moore provided to New Directions and the veteran community at large. “For about 15 years, Marti came to the Barrington House to work directly with the veterans to get service connections and sort out their discharge status,” Williams said. “Over the years, she helped as many as 500 veterans get the help they needed.”
“The story of New Directions would be a far different one if not for the contributions of Marti Moore,” said NDVets President & CEO Gregory C. Scott. “Her legacy is evidenced in our lasting relationship with Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the milestones we’ve reached together toward ending veteran homelessness.”
Marti Moore passed away on July 31, 2015. She is survived by three sons (Derick and his wife Aldora, John and his wife Mary, and Justin), her husband, Gregory Jackson, Jr., her sister, Michelle Kerr, as well as 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“There are no words to describe all the work that Marti did to bring attention and resources to the veterans and to New Directions,” Williams said. “We will continue our work, knowing her spirit will always be here with us.”