For over twenty years, the Founder and President of VHATS Inc., Luis Rivera, has been advocating for and providing guidance to veterans and their families on how to obtain federal benefits and/or veterans services that apply to their individual situations. Amazed by the number of veterans he encounters that are oblivious to both a multitude of veterans benefits and/or services offered throughout the state, Luis committed himself to doing more by spreading benefits awareness, connecting veterans with certified Veteran Service Officers and/or local employers, promoting training opportunities and informational resources specific to veterans needs, and partnering with members of the community and public officials to support veterans initiatives.
VHATS Inc. was established in 2014 on the premise of 'paying it forward' to as many veterans as it can reach in the Southern California and beyond. The organization operates primarily on charitable donations; members have been working diligently to raise the funds necessary to support its cause. Nevertheless, one of the biggest challenges that VHATS has faced is getting veterans to set aside their pride, look past their misconceptions about VA benefits and services, and make the time to apply for benefits and/or utilize services they earned. The excuse mostly provided by veterans is that since they did not return from service missing a limb(s), they do not feel entitled to VA benefits. However, the fact is that a significant percentage of those who served, especially in combat zones, return with health issues, PTSD, and other service-connected disabilities.
Luis Rivera, founder and CEO of VHATS Inc., is a U.S. Marine Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient who has been assisting veterans for over 20 years and is known throughout the area for his untiring efforts to assist veterans in need. His hobbies consist of customizing cars and cabinetry. Additionally he likes to attend public events that recognize veterans for their service.
Veterans Housing Assistance and Training Support (VHATS, INC.) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is owned and operated by a Purple Heart recipient who abides by the principle of leaving no veteran behind. The organization's core mission is to help fulfill our country's promise to the men and women who served to protect our nation and the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. VHATS is dedicated to a single purpose, empowering veterans to enhance their quality of life with respect and dignity. We accomplish this by educating veterans and their families about a full range of federal benefits available to them that can subsidize their income and/or living expenses, as well as education, health and well-being.
It takes a team of dedicated volunteers to make sure VHATS is reaching out to as many communities as it can so veterans everywhere have access to our informational services. We're fortunate to have some of the best dedicating their time, energy, and expertise to our cause. We couldn't 'pay it forward' without them.
Albert R. De Leon, Vice President of VHATS Inc., is a 28 year Army veteran with two combat tours in Afghanistan. Albert served with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Panama), and 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Afghanistan) and is the recipient of the Bronze Star medal and Purple Heart. Albert is a volunteer at the Mission Hills California VA hospital and holds a Bachelors Degree in Business to include serving as a security director in the Los Angeles area.