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Veterans Need to Be Able to Eat More Than They Need a Holiday

Veterans Need to Be Able to Eat More Than They Need a Holiday

I was born and raised in a military family. My father served for nearly 28 years in the Army, having moved up the ranks after being drafted during the Vietnam War to his retiring rank of Command Sergeant Major. For all of my teenage years I was keenly aware of our family’s specific responsibility to the soldiers on the base. As the Command Sergeant Major’s wife, my mother was involved in the military service organizations that helped make life easier for the families in the unit or battalion. This included social functions, fundraising activities and food drives for the base food bank.

The needy families in the community that used the food bank were our fellow military families.

My parents have long since settled into life as a retired military family, but the need for food aid for active duty personnel remains to this day. Qualifying military families use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to the tune of an estimated $100 million dollars a year. Of the 48 million families that received SNAP, 5,000 listed their occupation as active duty personnel.

Many of these are lower ranking soldiers with families. The pay for many of these soldiers are at or below the poverty rate. They often serve separated from their families, who are back home struggling and using SNAP at the base commissary.

Then there are the veterans.

More than one million veterans use food stamps. Unemployment is high among veterans, not to mention the number of seniors that are retired military. Of course, many of the young soldiers that receive the assistance during their service leave before they promoted up to the higher ranks and return home to an uncertain job market and few benefits. The ongoing war in Afghanistan has many soldiers returning with mental and medical conditions that leave them disabled and unable to work.

Then they come home to food insecurity.

It’s hard to imagine that the soldiers we spend so much time praising and honoring are among the millions of poor that need assistance for their basic needs. They are represented among our homeless and our hungry. They are among our mentally ill and our disabled. When the political debate about the poor heats up, they forget that the “lazy moochers” they so despise include those who have risked their lives for our country.

Many are risking their lives at this exact moment.

The recent farm bill passed by the house stripped millions of dollars from the SNAP program. This means that tens of thousands of active duty personnel and veterans saw their SNAP benefits reduced as of November 1. They, along with millions of others have been forced to make changes in their food buying budget with funds that were already insufficient to last a full month for many. For certain members of Congress, this isn’t enough, and they will insist on further cuts to the program in the upcoming budget negotiations and making it harder for people to apply.

These are the same members of Congress that will be honoring our men and women in uniform on Veterans Day and thanking them for all they’ve done for their country.

It’s painfully obvious they need more than just words.

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118 comments

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3:19AM PST on Nov 18, 2013

The family in this story could be mine if you replace Army with Navy....I remember as a child going with my Father to the VA hosp. to visit the returning Vets....going with my Mom to do food drives...collecting toys and coats....now the need is so much more. I do not understand The House cutting SNAP....but ...then, they don't need anything...they are getting a big pay check for doing nothing..except being destructive to our Country !!! Then they say they Honor our Vets.Hypocrites!!!...Please support our Vets any way you can (& all the others in need).

3:12PM PST on Nov 13, 2013

It is so wrong that the US government doesn't ensure food security and adequate housing for the military and their families.

9:26AM PST on Nov 13, 2013

People need to eat every day, not just on holidays when emotional awareness kicks in. The lucky ones do.

Having had no trouble expecting those who served to put their personal lives on hold, shouldn't THEY now be having no trouble expecting needed help until they transition back into normalcy?

Seems that Government only reacts after undeniable "transparency" and public opinion trump their shadowed operating techniques. Shame.

12:28AM PST on Nov 13, 2013

Everyone should have a safe place, and healthy food. The billionaires get more billions of dollars while millions of people can't get jobs with survival wages.

10:07PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

For those who fought for this country...you guys are the best! Period. I think they deserve free meals all the time. They've done something that I never could. It tears me up to see a vet who is homeless &/or hungry. After what they've given, they're entitled to more than a free meal on Veteran's Day.

10:00PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

We must have petitions demanding that congress restore SNAP and the people of this nation. The greedy immoral pigs may cut their salaries to pay for it, and while they're at it, they can cut the subsidies to big oil and coal to reduce the deficit! Thank you for the shameful news about the treatment of our veterans.

8:57PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

It is despicable that in the U.S, supposedly the richest and most admired country in the world,can allow the verterans to suffer.All efforts should be afforded for their employment,if needed,housing, certainly,physical AND mental welfare. I am ashamed that our gov't,whether run by Democrats or Republicans, can allow such disgraceful behavior.

8:08PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

Debbie W, Your right, we have to vote out the Shameful Dimwit thieves that spend 1billion 800 million every day more then they can collect, waging war on our children.

6:39PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

The most important thing that anyone can do is VOTE. Get rid of these thieves.

6:38PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

Shameful.

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