by Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer
Tina Mikes was working for the U.S. Census in 2010 when her job took her to an encampment of homeless people along I-676 in Camden – and its self-appointed mayor.
The man agreed to introduce census workers to the tent-dwellers there, then produced his own identification: a VA card.
She wondered how a military veteran wound up there, described services available to him, and continued her census duties.
But the encounter stayed with Mikes, a fellow vet who served as a communications specialist in the Army from 2000 through 2003 in South Korea and Germany. “I wondered what happened to him,” she said. “I never did find out.”
The 34-year-old Maple Shade resident was inspired, in part by that meeting, to start working to help homeless veterans after her graduation in May from Rutgers University in Camden.
She is now one of six New Jersey case managers for Soldier On, a private nonprofit organization that has provided needy vets and their families with referral services and temporary housing assistance since 1994.
“I love my job. I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do,” said Mikes, who has two children, an 11-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. “It’s gratifying to help veterans.