Veteran welder donates art to VA medical center

Tim DiMarco served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army infantry and prides himself on being independent, but striving to overcome his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the 82nd Airborne Veteran, welder and small business owner realized it was time to turn to VA for help.

When he stepped through the Coatesville VA doors in May 2022, DiMarco knew it was his best chance at keeping everything that meant something to him.

“I was fighting it,” he said. “I didn’t want to say I was homeless. I didn’t want to say I lost my business, but I couldn’t stay on the floor at my ex-girlfriend’s mom’s house any longer.”

Army Veteran; welder

Veteran Tim DiMarco

Fighting to keep everything

It wasn’t drugs or alcohol that brought DiMarco into Coatesville VA that day. “I went broke because I lost my shop, and then I had a mental breakdown,” he said.

His small business was barely making it, but the new contract he was awarded was going to bring in the money he needed to catch up on his rent. That was January 2020. Then he got sick and ended up in quarantine with COVID-19.

“I was violently sick and nobody knew what it was,” he added.

DiMarco lost his shop, but not his passion for welding. In October of that year, he stopped by the Voluntary Services office to drop off a piece of art he wanted to donate (pictured above). The pieces, which spell Coatesville VA Medical Center, are made from local railroad materials. They were made using the skills he learned in 2014 while using the G.I. Bill to start his welding business.

Now, DiMarco has turned his craft into a creative outlet.

“The artwork fulfills a need inside,” he said. “It’s a desire for destruction and creation through everything. Maybe it’s the airborne infantry in me.”

Donating the metalwork was a way to give back to the medical center. Having grown up in Coatesville—a steel town that relies on the railroad—he knew the city’s and facility’s reputation for serving Veterans like himself.

Here to serve you

“I preach Coatesville VA. I preach the programs here. Coatesville VA has been good to me. Whether you’ve been to war or not, use the system. It’s there for you,” he said.

DiMarco graduated from the Merakey Fresh Start Grant and Per Diem programs and, with the support available to Veterans through Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers to help with the cost of rent, he now has a house to live in.

If you know a Veteran who is fighting to keep everything and has never applied for benefits, encourage them to speak up and reach out. Help them with applying for their benefits and seeking their earned care.

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