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An Air Force Veteran And Single Mom Shares Her Story Of Living On The Brink Of Poverty (VIDEO)

04/02/2014 07:23 am ET | Updated Apr 02, 2014

Terry is a 44-year-old woman, an Air Force veteran, a full-time employee at her local university and a mom of two.

She also knows all too well what it's like to truly live paycheck to paycheck.

Until recently, Terry was making $18,000 a year to support herself and her two children. Her struggle, though not unique, was a closely guarded secret, as Terry feared that anyone who found out about her dire financial situation would judge her and wonder what she did wrong to wind up in such a bad place.

"I thought I did everything right," Terry says. "I served my country, I got a degree, I don't have debt. But life happens."

On the outside, Terry didn't seem like she was on the brink of poverty. "Nobody would have suspected," she says. "My neighbors, my church, my single moms' group -- [they] didn't know how much I needed help."

Even though there were financial resources available, Terry admits that she had a very difficult time accepting help.

"I went years -- years -- struggling," she says. "I didn't want to use a food stamp at the grocery and have all my neighbors see."

Terry's past as a veteran seemed to add another layer of pride. "I am an American veteran... I represented this country and then now I need food stamps?" Terry says. "That's humiliating. That's embarrassing to admit to."

After Terry did finally accept help, it was the first step in setting her on a path out of poverty. She says, "It took enough weight off of me that I could get over that overwhelmed state and make some life choices to... get my confidence back again and step out there and make a change for me and my kids."

To about national organizations that help women living on the brink of poverty, visit shriverreport.org.

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