Help us serve vets

Story by Denise Wendt; video by Shannon Turner

Rob is a gentle guy, with a big heart and an easy smile. In 2003, his Army National Guard infantry unit got the call to go to war. Rob spent 14 months in Kuwait and Iraq. When he got back to the states, he was changed — angry, volatile and injured.

His wife saw the change in his personality and urged him to seek treatment. He received counseling for PTSD and medical attention for a traumatic brain injury at the Roseburg VA.

Rob is grateful for the help he received, but a disability rating left him feeling useless.

“I kind of shut myself away. I didn’t feel like I mattered to society anymore.”

That turned around two years ago when Rob began volunteering at Daily Bread in Springfield, one of 31 emergency food pantries in the FOOD for Lane County network.

“I just kind of fell in love with it. Being at the pantry I felt like I could be around people and function properly. Big word there — function. It boosted my self esteem.”

“Many of the people we serve have some form of disability. I see other vets there. I can relate to them. I see that I’m not alone. It’s all worth it when that one person comes through who’s really hurting and they give you a hug saying ‘you helped me so much.’

The look of relief and hope I see on people’s faces when they get to feed their families for at least another week — sometimes it brings me to tears. It’s a wonderful thing, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Rob’s family is on a fixed income, so they get a food box.

Did you know that more people in Lane County are working but still need help? We surveyed pantry users and found that

  • 44% of households report some kind of income
  • 80% say they are able to meet their monthly food needs with the help of a pantry
  • 39% of households have watered down food or drink to make them last longer
  • 82% say they did not have enough money to buy food in the past 12 months

Remember our veterans this November, especially those facing hunger and hardship. Help us serve more people facing hunger and the many families who are struggling.