Video posted on March 31, 2016 at 6:00 am CST

To Elliott, the American dream means having something to be able to pass on to his children, but losing his home to predatory lending took away the one thing he had hoped to pass on.

Elliott had served two tours in Vietnam, married, worked as a cook at a Kansas City restaurant, and owned a home with his wife. Three days before his wife was eligible for full benefits at her new job, she slipped and broke her ankle. Though he had been a faithful good-standing client of his bank for years, he was not approved for the loan he needed to pay for the hospital bill. With no other option, he turned to payday loans to foot the bill. That one payday loan multiplied into five and cost $50,000 in interest for only $2,500 worth of loans. After losing his house and his car, he finally received a lump-sum disability check from the VA. He summarily paid off the debt collectors and now advocates against the exorbitant interest rates for folks with no better option for a short-term loan.

“I want to tell people now that hey, your voice has to be heard because if you don’t say something then you are always suffering in silence and there’s too many people here to help you,” Elliott said.

Now, Elliott is pursuing his American dream by giving back the blessings he’s received through service to his church and the local food pantry.